Those people

My earliest memory of dining out was in a cafe in West Bromwich, UK. The treat ended with my younger brother by three years having a tantrum; screaming and kicking on the floor surrounded by chips.

My addiction to going out to eat formed while undertaking hospitality studies in Worcester and Blackpool, 1980 to 1984. Overseas travel broadened my appreciation of fabulously foreign cuisines.

As a food service employee, I would groan internally about the guests who refused to leave, so that I could clear up and head home to bed.

My husband and I have become those people who literally spend hours chatting and supping over meals in eateries. The latest trend is starting with late lunch and continuing on to dinner. All the better when Stan is able to accompany us. He enjoys the attention from the staff, greeting them like old friends.

Our current favourites for double dining are Marinara Ristorante Cafe, Hawthorne and Patina at Customs House, Brisbane. Starting earlier ensures our departure well before the end of the evening.

Quelle horreur

The thought of being deprived of Google in Australia is monstrous! Fingers crossed we will not succumb to have to Bing things.

On a local level the winds of change grew to hurricane proportions. We signed up with a realtor, booked times for staging, photographs, and the first viewing.

Then the realty of the market dowsed our spirits. Everything is on hold until we can find somewhere suitable to live.

Deciding we will rent for a while, we are well beyond dirty, pest infested, rundown garrets. Is it unreasonable to expect air conditioning, dishwasher, covered outdoor area, space from the neighbours and undercover parking?

There are suitable rental properties however, as in stories of unrequited love, our advances are spurned. Why? We have an ‘inside’ Stan.

Tide of change

Once upon a time, in a sleepy street, near the brow of a hill, stood a single storey red brick cottage, bordered by hardy grassed paths.

The owner loved the home so much, they attached a sturdy white wrought iron bracket. Suspended beneath by two rings, a white oblong marker declared the house’s location.

Being a fan of swashbuckling heroes, the chosen placque featured a galleon, perpetually travelling the oceans at full sail.

Many a long year did that building provide shelter and comfort to its inhabitants. While number 37 gently swayed in the breeze.

Being but five kilometres from the city, the growing populace demanded increased housing density. Standalone dwellings were gradually consumed by multi-storey, hemmed in developments.

Today a refurbished ship 37 voyages upon a shiny new ‘boutique’ apartment block.

Customs House

Queensland slightly relaxed isolation rules at the weekend. We took to the river, rather than the road. We felt spoilt, a CityCat ferry ride, a walk along the boardwalk in the Autumn sunshine, followed by a picnic in the Botanical Gardens.

The afternoon light, playing on the dome of Customs House, caught my eye.

Best loaf yet

Since posting a recipe for sourdough bread in 2014, I have lost count of the number of loaves made. Over the years, I have tweaked the proving times, the timing of the knocking back stage, ditched the sourdough starter, and tried different flours.

Using 1/4 teaspoon of active dried yeast and Laucke Crusty White Bread Mix (flour and salt), this loaf is the largest yet. It was achieved by proving for 24 hours in the fridge followed by 12 hours at room temperature. A gentle knock back as described in the amended recipe below and baking for 30 + 15 minutes.

425g unbleached bread flour
375g water
1/4 teaspoon of active dried yeast
1 teaspoon salt (not needed when using bread mix)

1. Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl then stir in water.
2. Cover with glad wrap (cling film).
3. Store in the fridge for 24 hours then 12 hours at room temperature.
4. Preheat large lidded Pyrex casserole dish or Dutch-oven in oven at hottest temperature.
5. Meanwhile line a bowl or basket with baking parchment and turn out dough onto floured surface or board. Save the cling film for later.
6. Using floured hands or bowl scraper, fold the edges of the dough into the middle. I usually work from quarters then eighths.
7. Place the dough right side up into the lined bowl and cover with cling film.
8. When the oven is at temperature remove the Pyrex bowl, take off the lid.
9. Transfer the baking parchment and dough the into the pre-heated container and replace the lid.
10. Bake the bread for 30 minutes then turn the temperature down to 200oC and remove the lid.
11. After 15 minutes at the lower temperature the bread should be cooked.
12. Cool on a wire rack.

Happy baking!