Back in time for tea

Travelling the world, hopefully with a cuppa in hand

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Making and munching our loaves

We loved it burnt bits 'n' all

At the risk of sounding like a food blog, we’re going to tell you all about our bake day yesterday where we made our first decent loaf. After visiting the excellent Apple Day at Burwash Manor and meeting the lovely ladies of Cambridge Cookery school, we were inspired to give bread making a go ourselves. After hearing the River Cottage bread book highly praised by our friend Paul, we ordered ours last week and stocked up on some flour in anticipation of its arrival.

We’ve dived in at the deep end and are in the process of trying to make a sourdough starter. The premise is that you provide a cosy home of mixed flour, water and air and wild yeasts do the rest, bubbling and fermenting away. You then use a dollop of the starter mixture instead of yeast when making sourdough. Our starter has been going since Friday evening but there’s not much to report yet. Once it’s going, it’s a bit like having a pet. The starter needs feeding and splitting regularly. If looked after well, they last for years. Now next time we want to go travelling the question will be ‘who’s going to look after the yeast?’.

After setting that up, we got stuck into making our first white loaf. To save a bit of time we started on Friday night and left a bowl of flour, yeast and water bubbling overnight. On Saturday morning, we just had to add some more flour and salt to make a dough. The step-by-step instructions were really useful and guided us through kneading, rising, shaping and proving. As the day wore on, we felt increasingly proud of our breads and ourselves – we were baking naturals!

However, a series of mistakes later, we felt very much like the novices we are. It all started when we switched the oven on way too early (on max) while our breads still needed lots of time to prove. We followed the book here but we’ll know better next time. Secondly, thirdly and fourthly, our three loaves wouldn’t all fit in the oven at once, we cracked a pirex dish we’d put in the bottom of the oven to steam┬áthe bread and all our loaves got what could be kindly called as ‘over-browned’ but is more commonly referred to as burnt. Not to despair, we still felt proud of our achievement and even more so when we tucked into our yummy homemade bread for tea. It was soft, light and slightly doughy with a lovely nutty flavour from the pumpkin seeds on the crust. The other two loaves have been sliced and stored away in the freezer for us to enjoy another time.

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Counting our chickens too soon…

Well, all our cosy cottage dreams came to an abrupt end this morning when we found out that there had been a second application made on our little house. The final decision rested with the landlord and he chose the other applicants. ‘What?!’ we hear you cry, but sadly it’s true and now our cottage dreams are no more. We’re really disappointed as we feel the letting agents messed us around from the beginning. If they’d got their facts straight we’d have been able to view the property on Thursday and so we’d have been first on the list. Despite submitting our application ahead of the other couple, they’d viewed it on Friday, a day earlier than us and unfortunately Jon’s temporary unemployment also counted against us. Big pants.

We have a couple of other viable options that will do, even if they don’t quite fulfil the dream, so we’re waiting on the answers to a few questions and then I guess we’ll make a decision then.

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Fingers crossed…

We have a house!!!!!

Well almost.

After a long weekend of house hunting we finally found a house to rent near Louisa’s work to the south of Cambridge. We saw quite a wide range of places and we could have lived in any of them really but this was the only one that had something special. One of the things we’d decided while travelling was that we’d like to try some country living and the cottage is in a small village with two pubs, a post office, a village shop, a yarn shop and not much else. It’s close enough for Lou to cycle to work and hopefully well placed for lots of country walks. We’re already really excited about living there but we have to wait until the end of the week to know for sure. The landlord has to agree to have us as tenants and then there are the usual credit and reference checks that take five days. Once we know for sure we’ll add a photo and more details.

 

 

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Photos of our Borneo adventures now online

All our Malaysia photos are online now

We’ve actually got ahead of ourselves and have prepared our Borneo photos for the blog before we’ve even left! They cover Kota Kinabalu night market, climbing Mount Kinabalu, Sepilok orang utan sanctuary, jungle safaris at Uncle Tans and snorkeling in Sipadan. They’re listed on the photos page under Malaysia.

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Going gadget crazy

Lou's new bento box

After a couple of epic blog posts, we’ll keep this one short (who of you breathed a big sigh of relief?). We’ve been indulging ourselves in the guilty pleasures of bargain-basement shopping during our last few days in Kota Kinabalu. The shops have all these amazing asian kitchenware items such as clip boxes in any colour, size or shape, very high-tech food flasks, fried egg moulds, bag sealers etc etc. We particularly fell in love with these pocket-sized clip boxes that unfold in a multi-dimensional sort of way to reveal lots of handy little compartments. We just had to have them although as yet we have no idea what to use them for! It hasn’t all been low-end browsing as we’ve been enjoying the air-conditioned delights of the newest shopping mall. While there, we found Lou’s favourite purchase – a very neat bento box system which comes complete with chopsticks and a cute little bag. It also happens to be in hot pink.

Since learning to make sticky rice in Thailand, we’ve been thinking about buying a rice cooker. We’ve been heavily researching makes and models since we got here and finally decided to splurge on a Zojirushi after reading all the reviews. It already feels like part of the family with its cute little carrying handle and merry little ‘twinkle twinkle little star’ tune and we can’t wait to give it a go once we’re back.

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