This was the second breadmaking workshop we have run for the community, but this time the emphasis was on sourdough. Elissa took us through the theory and process behind sourdough starter and breadmaking. Ian had been busy cranking up our community-sized pizza oven in preparation for the baking.
The sourdough was made and kneaded then left to prove for a couple of hours (it was a reasonably cool day). In the meantime, we rolled out our sourdough pizza bases and prepared the toppings which all of the participants had contributed. Then into our wood-fired pizza oven they went, and after a brief hiccup getting the temperature right, the pizzas were cooked and consumed.
The bread dough was punched down and quickly kneaded for the final time then placed in bread tins or on metal trays to prove again – this time in the back of Elissa’s warm car to speed up the rising. Much chatting and information sharing went on during the proving period. Unfortunately some of our participants had to head off, so they took their bread dough home to bake. The stayers put their bread into the oven and it seemed to be cooked in no time at all.
It came out looking scrumptious. We tasted some that Elissa had baked and it was delicious.
We took home a small portion of starter for us to feed each day until we tried our hands at home baking sourdough bread.
I have twice baked sourdough bread since from Elissa’s starter and was pleasantly surprised at how easy it is. You just need to be at home for a good part of the day. You can get on with other things whilst your bread rises.
We will probably run another breadmaking workshop in early 2018, and will post the date in the new year.
Long time permaculture teacher and practitioner, Debra Hebbard Keyes, travelled down from Grafton to demonstrate how we can use garden materials to construct baskets. In this case, we had at our disposal, picked from our community garden as well as local Highland gardens, strappy leaves of red hot poker, lomandra, fairies fishing rods, daffodils & jonquils and NZ flax.
The low hum of chatter ceased as participants got into a meditative state and wove small baskets using garden leaves, raffia and string to make cords that will come together into the final item.
Judging by the response from participants, a good time was had by all and I suspect this may just be the beginning of a new hobby for some of them.
We think we will be running another basket weaving workshop in 2018 so watch this space!
Students from University Technology Sydney visited the Southern Highlands recently to do some good works. They are a part of a “pay it forward” program called “The Big Lift ” which started in an American university some years ago where students calling themselves The Blue Crew travel to regional areas helping out community groups with tasks they cannot otherwise get completed.
Moss Vale Community Garden were lucky enough to have their company in early October for a morning of energetic gardening activities – namely clearing the back slope of a tenacious weedy groundcover in preparation for a proposed native & bush tucker bed. And with the help of our ever helpful Moss Vale CWA ladies, we were able to feed and water them with yummy home-made fayre.
What a great initiative!
In his tenth year of hosting cheese workshops for us, Nathan Burke once again took a group of interested locals through the process of making a variety of cheeses. These workshops are always popular and we have generally run at least two each year.
The day is fun and informative and participants took their three parcels of cheese home, the ricotta and quarg almost ready to eat, but the camembert requiring a few weeks of nurturing before it can be scoffed. There is no doubt that, in my opinion and that of a few previous workshop participants, it is the nicest camembert that you will ever taste!
Following on from the ABC’s WAR ON WASTE program and encouraged by our intrepid secretary Diny, a small contingent of community gardeners gathered to learn to make a natural replacement for clingfilm – “ecowraps” – which are made from cotton fabric saturated with natural beeswax, pine rosin & jojoba oil.
These can be wrapped around veges or over the top of leftover food bowls to keep the food fresh in the fridge, then wiped clean ready for ongoing re-use. No one-use plastic film being thrown in the bin to become tomorrow’s waste problem.
Diny has been demonstrating these ecowraps at our local farmers’ market where we hope people will make a choice to join us in phasing out the use of plastic cling film.