May 28, 2012

Time for a change

I believe what goes around, comes around.  That people get what they deserve in the end.  I always try to be a realist, see the world as it is, and make my life decisions based on that.  I take pride in everything I do, whether it be work, this blog, the way I dress or the message I send out to the world.

Why am I telling you this?  Well I've been debating whether I write this or not, but in the end, if I can get it off my chest, I can move on quicker.  I lost my job last week.  I got made redundant.  And as upset as I was, I have too my pride to let people walk over me. 

A major life change like this is making me think about what I really want in life.  For years I have been working in a corporate office doing marketing.  At times I loved it, and others I hated it.  Being jobless I'm starting think about what I really want to do.  Did I choose this career, or did I fall into it?  When I was little, like a lot of girls, I wanted to work for a fashion magazine.  In fact, when I left school I applied to do fashion and textile design.  I wanted so badly to work in the industry I wrote to magazine houses, I even got a job at David Jones, helping out in PR so I could get closer.  Nope.  A couple of years ago I started painting.  I took a couple of art classes, did some oil paintings, sold a couple.  I thought, maybe I could be an artist, but then I realised I'd rather leave that to when I'm retired.  When I started this blog I was open to the food world.  I thought how great would it be to work in the food industry?  Working for Gourmet Traveller or Delicious magazine.  I took up photography, partly due to this blog, but also because I loved it.  Then a year ago I started doing a bit of graphic design.  I got myself a couple of clients, doing their business cards and random design work.  I ended up back at uni doing design and art.  But now I'm just confused.  I don't know what I want, but I know that I want to wake up every morning and be excited to go to work.  I haven't ever really felt this way and am wondering if it's even possible.  

I hit rock bottom last week.  The best part of this is I now have some time to think about what I really want.  I have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

May 12, 2012

Olive and Rosemary Bread

Hi there.  I'm sorry I've been kind of M.I.A a bit lately.  If I could tell you about my week I would, but to be honest, it's too intense I'd rather just say...  well...  it sucked.  But it's Saturday, and it's Mother's Day tomorrow, and I should probably say something about my mum.  After my last post my mum rang me and said "can you stop talking about me on your blog!".  I said sure, but I lied.  I can't help it.  Not only is she lovely, and caring and pretty much my rock, but she makes me laugh.  Most of the time unintentionally.  (Oh and Colin you're my rock too but there is only so much of my whinging and constant talking that you can put up with that I have to then dump on mum).

So I dedicate this bread to mum.  Why?  Well first of all, when I first noticed everyone cooking bread in a Dutch oven, it was my mum who came to the rescue and gave me her Le Cruset pot!  Those heavy, expensive pots - I now own one!  Mind you when she gave it to me it was covered in dust, so I'm assuming it hasn't been used in years. Never the less, I have one of her pots that I will no have for the rest of my life.  The other reason is she's been the one who has taught me everything about cooking (along side every cooking show on tv) so why not dedicate this recipe to her.

Let me tell you about this bread.  Oh. My.  It's good.  I have made bread before but this loaf is by far the best.  It's almost like a ciabatta (my favourite).  It's crusty and golden on the outside, and slightly dense, hole-y and soft on the inside.  I knew a lot of people had been making this bread as it kept appearing on my blog roll.  So when it came time to trying it, I googled until I found this recipe.  It was by far the best photo, and really captured the style of bread I love.  I altered it slightly, added some olives, rosemary and sea salt flakes, and viola, amazing.

The best thing about this recipe is how easy it is.  A trick to getting it to rise quickly - turn your oven on the lowest setting, turn the light on, leave for 10 minutes, then turn it off leaving the light on, put the dough in a bowl covered in plastic wrap, then let it sit in the oven for 3 hours.  Done.  Risen.  If this doesn't work for you, cos well baking can be so unpredictable, leave it in there for longer, around 6 hours, with the light on.

So go forth my pretties, and make bread!

Inspired by Kitchen Trials

3 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon of dry yeast (heaped spoon)
1 1/2 cups warm water (luke-warm)
1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped coarsely
1 sprig of dried rosemary (I dry my sprigs on a window sill, otherwise use a heaped tablespoon of store bought dried rosemary)
Sea salt flakes

Sift the flour in a large bowl (either glass or metal, one that can sit in a warmish oven).  Add the salt and yeast and mix well.  Slowly add the warm water, mixing with a spoon as you go.  When the dough is sticky but well mixed you might now need all the water), cover with plastic wrap and place in a warmed oven for 3 hours (you can leave for up to 6 hours or overnight).  *** see note below for an update.

When the dough have risen to double the size, remove from the oven.  Turn the on the oven to 230°C and place the Dutch oven with lid on in the oven.  If you have a pizza stone, place this in first then the Dutch oven on top - this will stop the base from getting too hot. 

Add the olives and most of the rosemary to the dough and mix through with your hands.  Dust a clean surface with flour, then place the dough on top and form it into a nice round loaf shape.  Cover with plastic wrap and leave for 30 minutes while the oven heats up.

After 30 minutes, carefully remove the pot from the oven, remove the lid, and place the dough in the centre.   Sprinkle over the remaining rosemary and a good pinch or two of the sea salt flakes.  Place the lid back on and return the pot to the oven.  Bake for 30 minutes, then carefully remove the lid and allow to cook for a further 15 minutes.  This will brown the top of the loaf.

To test if its cooked through, either tap and listen for a hollow sound, or use a thermometer to check - it should be at around 85/90°C.

Allow to cool before eating.

***Update - So I let it rise overnight in the fridge, covered in plastic wrap - works really well!  So if you're in a rush, allow it to rise in a warm area (like an oven), but if you've got time, I highly recommend leaving it to rise for at least 12 hours (24 or more is even better!).

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