Seasonally inspired things to Learn, Make and Do


Learning about fermentation at Gartur Stitch Farm

sourdough bread

One of the hazards about having your own business is that everything becomes about the business.

I knit a blanket and I'm suddenly charting the patterns out for newsletter subscribers, I want to learn to hand letter and I am sharing the results day by day on my business instagram. . . it is insidious, it is pervasive, it is really not very good if you want hobbies that take you away from the cares and stresses of the business.

So this year I am making the effort to learn about things - for I love learning, I have a great wish to know lots of details about all kinds of things - that have nothing to do with my business.

I started with fermentation.

Because I take steroids every day the natural helpful bacteria in my body is a bit underpowered and I am prone to yucky infections, especially when stressed.

I decided that I needed to up my intake of good natural bacteria.

I had been meaning to learn how to make fermented foods for ages but the worry of it all getting a bit too funky and out of hand and a genuine fear of poisoning people was holding me back.

I even had a couple of books, both excellent - Liz Earle's The Good Gut Guide, Sarah Raven's Good Good Food - but something was stopping me from actually trying.

Then I saw that there was a course at local Gartur Stitch Farm dealing with all kinds of fermented foods - from sourdough bread and sauerkraut to kombucha and kefir - so I booked a place.

It was such a great decision to go - Kat Goldin who runs the courses is a natural teacher, she is so down to earth and fuss free that you become confident in your own ability to do things.

Over the day we learned to make sauerkraut and fermented carrots, sourdough bread and kombucha, we had a delicious lunch featuring lots of fermented foods.

We got to take away the things we made along with starters to set us on our way when we got home and a pack of recipes.

Now I have kombucha brewing away on my kitchen counter, there are fermented vegetables in the fridge but the real revelation is the sourdough bread.

I had tried making sourdough before, but I had felt that I was a slave to it - making a loaf seemed to take days and days and I was always feeding and worrying about the starter.

I only eat bread at weekends (because I can't seem to stop eating it if it is in the house) and with my previous attempt I seemed to be constantly making loaves and loaves - none of which was that great if I am honest.

The bread we made at Gartur - from Muriel the starter - was simply mixed up, stirred about a bit and shaped on the Saturday and then taken home to be put in the fridge and baked on the Sunday morning. It was a revelation.

As was the fact that I can use the sourdough starter to make pancakes and scones and don't need to be its slave.

I baked another loaf this morning. Making it took 10 minutes tops.

It looks like this and is scenting the whole house with bready goodness.

sourdough bread

You can check out the courses at Gartur Farm here - there is everything from bread making to crochet.

If you are wanting to have a day away from it all, in beautiful countryside, with great food, good company and to come away with a new skill - this is your place.

Tags: recipe

Comments: 2 (Add)

Sally on February 4 2018 at 18:02

Hi Jane, that looks amazing and I'm sure smelled & tasted wonderful too. I found this post very interesting as I didn't realise that there were fermentation courses running so nearby. I am hoping to attend one in Glasgow this spring with a lovely lady that I met last Autumn but this has definitely put Gartur Farm on my radar, thank you. Encouraging our good bacteria to thrive is vital to our health & wellbeing and it is good to hear that it can be straightforward too.

Jane on February 4 2018 at 18:06

You would love it at Gartur Sally - J x

Snapdragon social

When I was at University it was the time of the Poll Tax, an unpopular tax made even more unpopular by being implemented in Scotland a year before the rest of the UK - 'Thatcher's guinea pigs'.⁠⠀
It was a time of demonstration and violence with 50,000 marching in Glasgow, 1 million Scots refusing to pay. ⁠⠀
It was a time Sheriff's Officers and poind sales of possessions. ⁠⠀
Coalition student groups were formed - Socialist and Feminist and Anarchist and so on - there were big meetings in the Union, debates about a name and a logo and a manifesto. I remember lots of young, middle class, white men talked at length.  I remember that very, very little got done - a bus was organised to take students to Glasgow for the protests. ⁠⠀
In the meantime, up the hill from the campus, three women (I thought of them as old at the time but I'm sure they were the age I am now) simply stood outside the auctions and asked nobody to attend.  They stood by the front doors, they explained their reasons, they prevailed.  They possibly looked randomly menacing in that way middle aged women can.⁠⠀
People calmly bought back their possessions for 50p and their debts were squared. Action, meaningful results, a recognition that the personal is political - all while the student groups still debated their slogans.⁠⠀
I've been thinking about those women a lot recently. If they were the age I think they were, they will be queuing up for their vaccines this month.
In my happy place.⁠⠀
In the winter months The Studio is the centre of my working life. ⁠⠀
This was yesterday.  Trimming pieces of vintage velvet fabric for the Studio Club shop; alpaca socks drying in the dispatch room behind me (we now have size 8-10 in stock too); a roll @scottishlinen seconds to experiment with hogging the cutting table.⁠⠀
Bright and light and inspiring.
Starting the week with a photo from last year (simply because I lost a lot of this weekend to fatigue, so didn't take a new photo.)⁠⠀
Budgie, my beautiful and psychotic cat, with a windowsill of white amaryllis. ⁠⠀
Worth a second outing.
The proposed airstream conversion is in for planning permission approval at the moment, so that we change change its use from (neglected) artist's workshop into beautiful holiday accommodation.⁠⠀
In my vision for this we get to use the paid holidaymaking element to subsidise some artist's residencies - painters, writers, musicians, makers coming here to soak up the landscape and be inspired.⁠⠀
At the moment though I'm still at the stage of answering environmental health questions about quite how loud I am in my Studio and how we will light the path to the compost loo.
Yesterday my elder daughter, who lives in London, messaged me to say that our local DPD driver Slav was being given an award by for his outstanding service. 

It was because of the hundreds of messages that they had been sent commenting on his helpfulness, incredible good cheer, and parcel based problem solving.⁠⠀

Slav has been an important part of my lockdown life here. ⁠⠀
When roads look like this, good delivery drivers are a vital (and hopefully appreciated) part of life.⁠⠀
As my younger daughter chimed in “Go Slav!
This photo is from last week - but I see through the gloom that it has snowed overnight .⁠⠀
This part of the garden is outside our bedroom, the beech hedge borders the road, it used to be a drive when our bedroom was a garage.⁠⠀
Now it has a birch tree (symbolic for me of my miscarried babies, as I had to leave their actual birch trees behind when we moved here) surrounded by lots of box grown from small plants and cuttings.⁠⠀
We buried Jasmine, my scruffy miniature schnauzer, here in the summer, so in some ways it is becoming a garden for sitting on the bench and remembering and watching the birds.  I shall ask my ever generous  friend Nadja for some snowdrops to plant in the grass.⁠⠀
In my mind, eventually, the box balls will become like the ones on the front of @arnemaynardgardendesign book Garden Design Details - but this year they remain unclipped. ⁠⠀
I suspect box blight in the back garden and @jekkamcvicar points out that unclipped box does not get blight.⁠⠀
I love old gates - particularly old gates that stand in the middle of old unused spaces, leading to nowhere, keeping nothing in.⁠⠀
A memory of another time.
Last year - while I was dyeing socks out on my Studio deck, I was also dyeing wool yarn. ⁠⠀
Wool dyed with docks and nettle, gorse and meadowsweet, onions and plum bark all from the garden and lane.⁠⠀
Over the winter I gathered the wool skeins together - all the soft bright colours - and knitted myself an oversized stripy jumper. ⁠⠀
@rhiannonconnelly described it as wearing 'a hug from my garden' and I think she was spot on. ⁠⠀
The pattern is the 'After the Rain' sweater by @heidikdesigns but with random stripes as I wasn't sure how much of each colour I had. #aftertherainsweater

About Snapdragon Life

At Snapdragon Life I gently guide you through bringing the changing seasons into your daily life, helping you slow down, so that you can experience increased well being, calm and creativity.


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