under the influence

Sausages and Onion Gravy with Mash kit
Sausages and Onion Gravy with Mash kit

I’m under the influence, no, not of alcohol, I never touch a drop if I’m driving, or drugs regardless. In the kitchen, I’ve been known to sip a glass of wine when making dinner plus use it as an ingredient, and it’s not even that. I’m under the influence of bloggers, some named below and others who also have a knack with good food such as ArdysMeeks, roughseas, Marianne of East of Malaga and Sandra of Notes on A Spanish Valley.

I cobbled together a kit (potato scrubbing gloves, ricer and bottle of Madeira) under the influence of Roger of Food, Photography & France in my quest for the ultimate version of one of the G.O.’s favourites – Sausages & Onion Gravy with Mash. I did taste the Madeira and found it most appealing. It’s almost due to be replenished as it has become a go-to ingredient in early Autumn meals slow cooked in the big Chasseur pot, and the tagine used for the first time ever influenced by Glenda of The Passion Fruit Garden. When the weather cools right off I have plans to make ChgoJohn from the Bartolini Kitchens’ Beef Cheeks.

750 gram bread maker Spelt loaf
750 gram bread maker Spelt loaf

Under the influence of Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial and Celi of TheKitchensGarden I made bread. A while ago Celia offered me an offspring of her Priscilla but I was too chicken to accept. However the sourdough idea at least has been bubbling along in the back of my mind.

It got an incremental push when I made an unusual find in our apartment complex communal recycling area of a bread maker with an attached note indicating it was working. That was the beginning. I successfully & gleefully made a small (750 gram) spelt loaf. The G.O. adores white bread and is so-so about any other kind. Both of us do better eating less rather than more bread of any type. He however pronounced my spelt loaf not only edible but good, with only a tinge of surprise in his voice.

A couple of weeks later I attempted to make a larger (1200 gram) loaf but the bread maker responded with an E01 message (apparently indicating the unit was to hot) and couldn’t be persuaded otherwise. So I extracted the contents, gave it a quick knead, waited, it rose, kneaded, waited and put it in the oven with fingers crossed. It rose, browned and filled our apartment with the aroma of baking spelt loaf. Oh my God. It worked.

1200 gram baked Spelt loaf
1200 gram baked Spelt loaf

1200 g loaf

5 cups organic wholemeal spelt flour
1 sachet – 7 grams – dry yeast
3 teaspoons pink Himalayan rock salt
3 teaspoons organic raw sugar
3 tablespoons organic olive oil
450 ml room temperature water

Mix by hand until combined.
Rest until doubled in a warm place covered with tea towel – about an hour.
Knead briefly on floured bench – about a minute.
Place in large oiled and/or non stick loaf tin.
Rest for further 20 – 25 minutes – optional*.
Bake for 30 minutes on lower shelf of oven that has been preheating for about 5 minutes (set to 220°C/Fan 200°C/425°F).

* “Spelt naturally proves and rises more quickly than conventional wheat flour, so bake it as soon as it has doubled in size.” Spelt flour doesn’t require as much kneading as “the gluten in spelt flour is a little unusual. Unlike wheat flour, which is quite resilient and often needs a long kneading time (with breads) to strengthen its gluten and give the bread structure, the gluten in spelt flour breaks down fairly easily. This means that it is pretty critical not to over mix it, or risk having a crumbly texture imparted into whatever you’re making.”

Once the Spelt loaf has cooled I find it slices better having been stored in a plastic container in the fridge, and is better toasted.

Cookbooks and The Kitchen Tarot
Cookbooks and The Kitchen Tarot

Under the influence of Glenda of the Passion Fruit Garden I consolidated my cookbooks on a shelf of their own, adding a pre-loved Elizabeth David Italian Food, and a gorgeous pack of Kitchen Tarot cards influenced by a tea tarot image from an unrelated Kourtney Heintz post.

I doubt I’ll ever be organised enough to do In My Kitchen posts, and although I never say never it’s unlikely I’ll ever be in the league of Celi’s pig in the kitchen but when I’m in the kitchen I’m in good company.

Postscript: The lovely Celia has added me to her IMK list 😊 If you want to join in go to In My Kitchen.


47 thoughts on “under the influence

  1. Can you see me blushing at the mention of my influence over your kitchen endeavours? Oh, maybe that is the wine… Nice post, Elladee. I have just recently discovered Himalayan pink salt, having resisted for ages, wondering, isn’t salt just salt? Indeed not! Very interesting about the spelt flour. Enjoy the autumn harvest in your kitchen. xx

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  2. How dare you, how very dare you? Tantalise my taste buds with a mention of what is also my favourite meal Bangers and Mash( esp sweet potato) with onion gravy , and then you drift off the subject to talk about something else. You can’t do that, you have to talk about it for at least as long as the meal would last, even if you’re not talking gravy recipe, so I can savour every mouthful. The time for bread is at the end if there’s any gravy left. I’m starvin’ now and not a sausage, a potato or an onion in the house.
    You’re a very cruel woman even if I do adore you.Seems the G.O.has good taste in everything.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

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    1. I would send you some if I could 🙂 Beyond that, pop over the Roger’s blog, be further tantalized, and when it’s time for lunch I’m sure one of your wonderful local establishments will cater admirably 🙂 Being starvin’ will heighten the experience. Then call into the shops on the way home. Don’t forget the Madeira.

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  3. You must get a Priscilla.. I have one, via Chicago John! She travels that Priscilla. What a wonderful loaf you made regardless! And Go ON. Get a pig for your kitchen!! Under the influence is wonderful. Lots of love.. c

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    1. Thank you 🙂 Celia emailed and offered me a Priscilla, so I will accept but I think your Kefir bread is the next in my baby steps. I’ll put a Kune Kune on my long list… I wonder if they’re allowed/available in Australia.

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      1. I have read that you can dry kefir and re-start it. I will experiment. Though i am sure you can get it out there.. it does make good bread with a lot less hassle.. c

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  4. What a fabulous idea – ‘Under the influence’ I mean. I’ve been known to do the one-for-me-and-one-for-the-pot thing too. But with a nice Shiraz. 😀 And under /your/ influence I may just buy that ricer I’ve wanted for a while. There’s a chestnut puree dessert I tasted in Hungary that needs a ricer…. lol

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    1. Thank you 🙂 The G.O. is the king of [traditional] mash but we both love the ricer mash. Mind you, because there’s a gadget involved he happily makes it too. We never had one when I was a kid, I think it’s the influence of TV cooking shows that have made them popular. I looked for a while but could never find the right one until browsing Peters of Kensington online (as I do) I found a Chef’N – FreshForce Potato Ricer which “has a unique cog design in the handle that makes it 65% more efficient than regular potato ricers, and it’s really easy to use.” Best of all, you rinse it and throw it in the dishwasher.

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      1. You little ripper! I’ll check out that brand. I have looked online but how do you know which is worth buying? Now I can buy with confidence [plus I throw all my favourite gadgets in the dishwasher so that point is a biggie]. Thanks for the tip. 🙂

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        1. Yes, I saw that. I registered on PoK and added the ricer to my wish list. Hopefully they take note of things like that and order in more stock.

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        2. I’ve had out of stock things on my wish list come back into stock, so you should be fine. I never visit the actual store, that would be too dangerous, but amass wish list items then do an order a couple of times a year to mitigate [the very reasonable] postage. Over the years I’ve saved a significant amount of cash.

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        3. That’s actually a really good idea because the postage always comes as a bit of a surprise. I might just window shop a bit to see what else I need… or really really want! lol

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  5. Priscilla is in the envelope and will be on her way to you today! What a glorious post! I want a pig in my kitchen too, I promise not to eat her, Celi. Had lunch with Gorgeous Glenda just this week, and can I just say, Chicago John’s beef short ribs are to DIE for.. 🙂

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    1. Thank you 🙂 I am determined, other than the sliced white bread the G.O. cannot be dissuaded from on occasion, not to buy bread again. I checked out the mini-pig situation in Australia and imported pigs are not allowed, plus other than having a kitchen I don’t have suitable housing – http://www.jareboofarm.com/AustralianMiniaturePigs/MiniaturePigs.html – ah well.
      Food-wise I’m quite happy about the upcoming cooler months as winter foods are my favourites

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  6. OOHHH what a find …a working bread-maker! What a shame it didn’t last long. Will you buy/find another? I use a bread- maker a couple of times a week to make sunflower bread, but alas, it IS from a packet. Good though!

    I’ve bought spelt bread from a farmers’ market stall, and it is really tasty. Do you slather it in butter? 😉

    I would love to try your recipe, but I would find difficulty getting some of the ingredients. I’m pretty sure that Andalucia hasn’t embraced pink Himalayan rock salt yet!

    I know, I know …. I can improvise! 🙂

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    1. I’m giving the bread maker one more chance, if only in the hope of trying the jam and pizza dough settings, and although I slightly prefer the oven baked bread I like the set and forget aspect of the bread maker.
      Oh yes, the first warm slices slathered in butter are divine.
      I based my ingredients on the basic bread maker recipe correlated with the Spelt bread recipe I linked and used what I had on hand but any type of salt, sugar or oil can be substituted. The thought of baking bread always daunted me but now I understand from experience that improvise is the key, I’m off and baking 😉

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  7. Wow, we influence your cooking! My husband will be pleased, I have to credit him as he does at least 60% of the cooking in our house! The bread looks lovely, I enjoy spelt bread so will give it a go. SD

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  8. I’m under the influence too, in that I can’t break away from visiting my blogger friends. I just took a break from writing and read this post. I must be out of the loop. I’ve never heard of spelt. Lovely post.

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    1. Thank you. Isn’t it nice our blogger friends are always around when we need a break. Spelt is an old grain, and it’s become popular again as an alternative to white flour. I just like its taste and texture.

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  9. Welcome EllaDee – I liked the idea that your units have a communal recycling area where people can put other unwanted things for a 2nd life. Bit like a grassroots version of Gumtree! I too have been inspired by many of the participants on IMK including Glenda from Passion Garden and also Anne from Mud Splattered Boots. And then there’s Celia…she’s in a different category all together. Thanks for joining in. Hope to see you back again some time soon.

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    1. Thank you. I’m not sure the recycling is intentional – it’s a designated large item disposal area but not much makes it into the rubbish. Most of the Inner West is footpath recycling friendly.
      I’m always hanging out at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, much inspiration to be had thereabouts 🙂

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  10. Hi Ella. I love your post. It is a good idea for a series. We are in Katoomba at the moment and it is a bit chilly. I love the little pig. I hope he is not destined for someone’s dinner.

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    1. Thank you. Feedback is gold. I can imagine the mountains are chilly but it’s a good place for it. We are going up in June for the G.O.’s birthday. Sydney is soggy. Tima – the pig, is the beginning of Celi’s Kune-Kune breeding enterprise but they are pets not food 🙂

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  11. It looks pretty wonderful – baking your own loaf, having kneaded etc is like magic, isn’t it? I’ve only ever done it once years ago – it rose so high it hit the oven shelf above, which burnt some distinctive stripes into its crust.

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    1. There seems to be a mystique around baking bread so having it work did indeed seem like magic. I was wary of how far the loaf would rise so moved the oven shelves, although I think the stripes would have looked impressive.

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  12. What a lovely post, EllaDee! I’ve never baked with spelt but that loaf of yours makes me feel that I’ve really been missing out on something good. I have to give it a try. Do accept a bit of Priscilla from Celia. It makes the best bread! I follow her rosemary bread recipe and love it. In fact, I just baked some today for this evening’s supper. Thank you for kindly mentioning my recipe in your post. I hope you enjoy the beef cheeks as much as we do.

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    1. Thank you. Priscilla will probably be in my mail box this afternoon. I’m looking forward to trying it, and the rosemary bread recipe would be a good start. We’re slowly heading towards beef cheek, and baked ham weather 🙂

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  13. I have a few Elizabeth David books including her biography – Writing at the Kitchen Table, which was pre-loved. I haunt second hand book stores looking mainly for old cookbooks…kudos for carrying on manually with the bread – it looks fabulous!

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    1. I’ll keep an eye out for the Elizabeth David biography. I gave the bread maker a last chance yesterday, it didn’t perform so went back to the recycling and I baked another perfectly good loaf in the oven. The benefit of the bread maker is it gave me the confidence to start. Maybe it will work its magic for someone else.

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    1. I think the baking muses are indulging me. I baked another last night to take away with us for our Easter break, and it worked! I doubt I will ever ceased to be amazed.

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  14. Loved this post and know exactly what you mean by the title! If only I had the time to peruse those wonderful cookery, bakery and foodie blogs more often. Your pics are great – finding the bread making machine is so you … it was waiting there for you. Your new theme is really attractive – keep blogging, keep smiling. 🙂

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    1. Thank you 🙂 Bloggers make lovely virtual neighbours. After the first effort the bread making machine didn’t want to play so I returned it. Maybe someone else will have better luck. I now gave the confidence to bake my own loaves, so it served a purpose 🙂

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  15. My hubby’s favourite is sausages & onion gravy with mash! But tonight I’m making spag (another of his favourites) because the guys at work always comment on how good it smells when he takes it for lunch the next day and ask if he’s married to an Italian (LOL). There’s nothing better than the smell of fresh baked bread in a house – I’ve got a breadmaker and it’s fantastic! 😀

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    1. The G.O. also loves spag – anything made with mince. To get that kind of response your spag must be very good. I love anything that’s easy to cook and we can eat for days… I’m sure I’ll acquire another breadmaker as the set and go aspect works for me. It was good to have a try before I buy opportunity.

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  16. A lovely post. Just tasty. (and now I’m hungry) Haven’t made bread for a while – and with summer temps building here, probably won’t be doing heavy cooking until Nov (maybe it’ll cool off by then)
    Thanks for the new blogs to explore!

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    1. Thank you 🙂 I love that the seasons have their own foods and flavors, and we can explore them all at the same time via the WordPress community garden 🙂

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