Making an apple pie from scratch

Okay, not quite from scratch:

But tonight I tried my hand at sweet shortcrust pastry for the first time, and tried making an apple pie. I think I added a bit too much milk to the pastry, because it was very sticky when I tried to roll it out, and I had to mix in a bit more flour before I could manage to roll it. it’s in the oven now for the final bake, so let’s see how it turns out.

There’s been a bit of cooking tonight, as my wife made pizza dough and topped it with things for dinner. So the oven’s been going for some time.

Okay, half an hour later… the apple pie turned out… rustic.

Apple pie from scratch

New content today:

New pastry

Friday was online games night, so I neglected to write a blog post. There’s not a lot to say anyway – I’ve bene busy working on my secret project and doing online ethics classes.

I’ve also been organising a visit to my aunt, who is in a nursing home in Germany. We have some time before my ISO meetings in Cologne to visit W├╝rzburg, where my aunt lives. I got contact details of the nursing home from my cousin and emailed to see if we could visit. They wrote back saying it would be fine, but there are some COVID safety rules we need to follow, including getting a test before going there. So I’ve been looking at where we can do that, as well as booking a hotel. I also need to work out train trips from the airport and so on.

Tonight for dinner I made quiche. I’ve been making the pastry using plain flour, but a few days ago I happened to see a Jamie Oliver cooking show where he was making pastry, and he said to use strong flour. So today I tried making it with bread flour. The pastry ended up less crumbly and held together better. I think it was a better result for quiche, whereas the plain flour one would be better for a fruit tart or something where you want a crumblier pastry.

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A dish that nobody has ever had before?

Today I had my last 3 online ethics classes before a week off, for the Easter break. There are plans for a family lunch on Easter Sunday. My wife’s nephew is flying in from Europe tonight for the holidays – he hasn’t been back to Australia since before COVID began (he has a job in Paris).

Tonight I made sourdough bunya nut okonomiyaki!

Sourdough bunya nut okonomiyaki

I have a strong suspicion that we may be the first people in the world to ever have this dish. I was wondering what I could do with leftover sourdough starter, and also the last of the most recent batch of bunya nuts that I’d peeled, when I had the idea of making okonomiyaki. There are several recipes for sourdough okonomiyaki on the net, but none include bunya nuts.

Sourdough bunya nut okonomiyaki

I made a special trip to the Asian supermarket up the street to get some Kewpie Mayonnaise, okonomi sauce, powdered seaweed, and dried bonito flakes for the topping. There’s also sesame seeds on there. The batter is just sourdough starter and eggs, and in it is shredded cabbage, grated carrot, chopped shallots (aka “scallions” in the USA), and chopped bunya nuts.

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Day 1 of rain bomb n+1

The rain has hit again. The forecast for today was up to 20 mm. So far we’ve had over 50 mm, and it’s only 9pm. Tomorrow is forecast for 100 mm, and then Friday another 30 mm. And Sydney is getting off lightly compared to some of the places that have been flooding recently – some of those areas are forecast to get over 300 mm.

This morning I had my last face-to-face ethics class at the school for this school term. It’s two weeks holiday over Easter for the kids (and me!), and then we return for term 2. It was raining heavily and the school is having construction work done to build a new hall after the old one burnt down a couple of years ago, so there are makeshift paths and mud and construction workers all over the place.

Tonight I’m baking some sourdough brownies. I thought I’d try to feed the sourdough starter a little more often, which means I’m trying to do things with it in between baking loaves of bread. I wondered if brownies would work, and of course there are dozens of recipes on the net, so we’ll see how it goes.

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Calzones with bunya nuts

For dinner tonight I made spinach, ricotta, and bunya nut calzones.

Spinach, ricotta, and bunya nut calzones

What else? I had two ethics classes, I took Scully to the dog park, and I worked on a small batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips for this week. I’m still doing just a week at a time – I haven’t managed to get the time to do a larger batch like I’d like to do.

Oh, and now it’s pouring rain… Tomorrow we’re supposed to get around 40 mm…

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Scully’s 4th birthday!

Scully is 4 years old today!

Scully's 4th birthday

She got a new chew toy from Luna, the poodle next door. And we gave her some peanut butter as a special treat – it’s probably her favourite thing ever.

For lunch today, I made sourdough bunya nut pancakes, with pineapple and maple syrup. I wanted to do it for breakfast, but I forgot to feed the sourdough starter last night, so I did it first thing in the morning, and it was ready for lunch time.

Sourdough bunya nut pancakes

I mashed some boiled bunya nuts and put them into the batter. I thought they’d mash more easily, but they were a little tough, so they stayed a bit lumpy. But that didn’t matter.

Sourdough bunya nut pancakes

Here are some pancakes being cooked:

Sourdough bunya nut pancakes

And the finished result, with chopped fresh pineapple and bunya nuts on top, and maple syrup:

Sourdough bunya nut pancakes

It was pretty good! I wonder if anyone has ever had a dish with bunya nuts, pineapple, and maple syrup in it before.

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Cooking and editing

Today I started work on another proofreading job, going through an academic paper and making corrections. I hope to get this completed over the weekend, for the authors who want it back next week.

I also did some cooking, baking a new loaf of sourdough, and preparing another batch of bunya nuts. I’ve further refined my method of peeling the bunya nuts. They’re significantly easier to cut and then extract the nut halves form the shells when hot, so instead of draining them all after boiling, I’m only taking a few out at a time and cutting them open before they cool.

Tonight for dinner I used some in a pesto, made with fresh basil and Parmigiano Reggiano, served over spiral pasta. This weekend I plan to make potato salad with the rest of the peeled nuts.

The weather by the way has cleared up from the ridiculous amounts of rain we’ve been having. We’ve had a couple of sunny days, which actually seems really weird after two solid weeks of rain.

New content today:

Experimental pizza with peanut butter

You heard right, folks.

Broccoli pizza

A few weeks ago I had the satay chicken pizza from the menu at our local pizza place. Tonight when thinking about what to cook, I realised we had no pumpkin, my usual go-to pizza topping. But we had broccoli, and what better to go with broccoli than satay sauce? But I didn’t have any satay sauce… so peanut butter and chilli flakes to the rescue! I added some pistachios and almonds as well for crunch I would have used cashews, but we ran out of those on the weekend and I have to buy some more.

Anyway, it turned out really good! There’s not a lot of peanut butter on there – just enough to give it a peanutty taste. The sauce under the cheese is traditional tomato paste, although I spread it a bit more thinly today.

The weather continues to be rainy. Today marked the 14th day in a row of rain. We can barely remember what it’s like to have a day where it doesn’t rain.

And in what I hope is not a consequence of the war in Ukraine, Outschool did its weekly credit card payment processing of class fees, and informed me by e-mail that a payment for one of my students could not be processed. A student who lives in Russia. Occasionally I’ve received these processing error notifications, but there’s no follow-up and the kid shows up in class as usual, so presumably the parent did something and the payment went through. But this time, a few hours later I received a second e-mail saying that the payment had failed to be processed again. I’ve never received a second message like this before. It makes me wonder if the parent tried to pay again, and was denied again. I’m hoping this is not being caused by the financial sanctions being taken against Russia, and that this student won’t have to miss my classes because of this war.

New content today:

Engineering data…

On my day off from doing anything ethics related*, I worked on making exercises for the university data engineering course. I completed a couple of exercises, and wrote Matlab code to be an example solution, and then uploaded them and passed them on to the lecturer so he can integrate them into the lecture for the relevant week. These are fairly simple exercises on calculating summary statistics from a bunch of data, and making conclusions about the data based on them.

Then I started work on exercises for the next week’s lecture on data presentation. I’m partway through that, and hope to finish it off later this week.

Tonight I tried a new thing: sourdough pizza dough. It didn’t rise nearly as much as dough made with yeast – it would have been good if I could have let it rise for longer, but the timing is tricky with sourdough starter. I fed the starter this morning and then made the dough about an hour before dinner. I probably should have fed the starter last night, made the pizza dough in the morning, and let it rise in the fridge most of the day and taken it out for a final hour or so at room temperature.

But despite that it turned out pretty well! The pizza crust was nicely different and it didn’t really matter that it hadn’t risen much.

* That sounds wrong… I mean, I didn’t specifically do anything unethical today.

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Home made pasta

After getting into making bread, and pizza dough, I tried something that I’ve been wanting to do for a while now for the first time. I made pasta from scratch.

I used semolina, and aded eggs, rolled it into a dough, and then cut small pieces and tried to shape them into orecchie. I’d seen a show on TV recently where an old Italian woman made pasta like this.

Home made pasta

They were a bit uneven – obviously my technique needs a lot of work. I boiled them up and just used some pesto from a jar, with toasted pine nuts and some pecorino romano cheese.

Home made pasta

The pasta puffed up a little bit, and they were really a bit more like tiny dumplings than pasta. And they were still a bit firm after 10 or so minutes of cooking, and I wasn’t sure if they’d soften further or not, so I took them out and we ate. They tasted fine, just a bit too firm. I think next time I might try rolling the pasta thin and cutting it into tagliatelle or something, to see if that improves the final hardness.

The rest of the day I spent teaching ethics classes – four on a Thursday, so it’s my busiest day of the week – and doing my exercise routine, and baking some sourdough, and going out with Scully for a walk at lunch to get some fish & chips and sit overlooking the harbour. The day was cool, cloudy, and windy today, a very pleasant change from the warm and extremely humid weather we’ve been having for the past few weeks. And tonight we had a brief thunderous downpour. It looks like the forecast is for cooler and wetter weather for the next week or so.

New content today: