Thursday, July 18, 2013

Take one bottle of beer...

My focaccia bread recipe is great but a week ago my sis sent me a bread recipe that is the 'King of Quick and Easy'. I still can't believe how flour and beer transform into something so yummy - give it a go and tell me how you find it. There are a lot of variations on the internet - just search for beer bread. This version is from Jo Seagar's website at

Beer Bread


  • 3 cups flour (sifted)
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder (sifted)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 can of beer (made up to 400 mls with water)
  • 1 handful of grated cheese


Preheat oven to 200°C. Quickly mix all ingredients together and spoon into a greased or non-stick loaf tin and top with grated cheese. A large loaf 20 x 10cm tin will take 1 hour but smaller tins 8 x 15cm take 35 - 40 minutes. 

A wonderful 'quick bread' that has the texture and taste of a farmhouse loaf - gorgeous yeasty smell and made in a jiff without all that planning for hours, bowls of dough rising in the hot water cupboard, kneading and fiddling about. You don't even have to take off your rings to make this one.

This bread can be made with a variety of flours, wholemeal, mixed grain etc. Allow 1 teaspoon baking powder per cup of flour - and of course it can be topped with other things besides cheese, e.g. sesame seeds, rosemary, flaked salt, paprika and poppy seeds etc.

A great idea is to make a stuffed bread using this basic recipe. Place 1/2 the mixture in the loaf tin. Spoon in a layer of onion marmalade (see recipe) and say a layer of chargrilled peppers, spinach leaves, pitted olives etc. Spoon in the remainder of the dough and bake as per directions.

My first beer bread loaf

Slices nicely, toasts great - fantastic!
My first loaf followed the recipe above and was cooked in the main oven which is fanbake only so I dropped the temperature to about 180°C and cooked it for 50 minutes. I cut back on the salt and added 2tsp mixed herb and cooked in my mini-oven at 200°C for about the same time. The bread looked and smelt yummy but the texture was different and next time I'd cut the mixed herbs back to 1tsp as it was a bit overpowering. I've bought 2 dozen beer on special this week and will experiment further with olives, salsa and some caramelised onions!

My second loaf - mixed herbs and cheese
We've had some lovely winter weather - cool nights with frosty mornings and sunny days. This was the scene last Saturday at the bottom of Back Road...

9.45am on Saturday 13 July
Saturday's sunshine gave way to sleety showers on Sunday but I certainly wasn't cold as I trimmed tracks at Dancing Star. I ran into Red/Blue/Red (one of the toutouwai, Stewart Island Robins, released at the preserve earlier this year and, as I had some mealworms with me, I could feed him/her and enjoy watching this wee robin at close quarters.

Horseshoe Bay at low tide with sleety showers breezing through

It was great to have this young one's company but at times he/she came so close I had to be careful where I was stepping. Click on the picture below to hear the robin trilling to me...



Saturday, July 6, 2013

Island weather

What a difference an hour makes! Two hours ago the sun was shining brightly without a cloud in the sky; an hour ago the sun was still shining although with a distant rumble of thunder as I checked my rat traps and rebaited them - and now it's pelting down with water running down the flue and hissing loudly as it drips on to the wood burner! The temperature dropped from 13.2°C at 11am to 6.7°C in 45 minutes. I wonder if the sun will be shining again by lunchtime!!

Our township of Oban seems to have escaped the worst of the winds that must increase in intensity as they spread away from the centre. Our highest gust over the last week was 85km/h (47 knots) and the shade house survived (yay!); I added more weight to the frame and tightened ropes but can see that a stronger gust could still lift it up without too much trouble.

Shortest day has been and gone but it's actually darker in the mornings at present as the moon wanes. I try to walk to work without using a torch in the hope that I come across kiwi heading home for their daytime sleep but no luck yet!
Shortest day at Oban, Stewart Island
I'm toying with the idea of getting a lower-priced Android tablet - maybe a HP Slate 7 or a Google Nexus 7; I used to be an early adopter of new technology but now feel that the technology world passes me by. Not having a landline or reliable mobile broadband signal is frustrating but I'm convinced that mobile technology will improve on the island so understanding what tablets/smartphones do will keep me in the loop. Any advice or suggestions are warmly welcome - or should I just stick my head in the sand and pretend the rest of the world doesn't exist!! In addition to the tablet, I'll also need a mobile broadband hotspot (Huawei E587) that connects to the yagi aerial.

Still a number of rats about although had a clear run at Deep Bay last Tuesday. I took the telemetry gear out with me to see if I could get any signals from kiwi with transmitters on that were released at Ackers Point over the summer. I'd seen a lot of kiwi sign the week before but didn't get a peep from the 4 transmitters I was listening for. Each transmitter is on a different frequency so at regular intervals I'd turn the receiver on, unfold the blue aerial 'arms' and point it around the vegetation, then repeat with the next frequency. Unfortunately there were no 'beeps' to be heard this time but maybe the kiwi were all snug in deep burrows so will check again another time.

Check out a Taranaki kiwi hunt here

Gotta go, it's 12.30pm and the sun is back out!!