Tag Archives: bread

Living on the ‘plains’.

Occasionally, I revel in the ‘plains’ of life.

Plain cake

Plain Cake

Plain Cake

plain yogurt in a plain pot

plain words


On this great plain the eye
Sees less of land than sky,
And men seem to inhabit here
As much the cloud-crossed hemisphere
As the flat earth.  ……..

Basil Dowling

‘plains’ that sustain us;

Canterbury Plains

Canterbury Plains

that form the staff of life.

Plain yogurt bread

Plain yogurt bread

How good are the ‘plains’.  🙂

Plain song


© silkannthreades


Let’s talk hardtack

This morning I woke up to a  version of this ; The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, is Ended, one of my all time favourite hymns.

I lay in bed listening to words and music that I hadn’t heard in years, and felt profoundly peaceful. The hymn was part of our New Zealand  Praise Be programme for Remembrance Sunday, on this second Sunday in November.  On Remembrance Sunday,  people throughout the Commonwealth  pay tribute, before God, to those who laid down their lives in war.  I haven’t been to a Remembrance Sunday service, in real life,  but the few scenes (and one  service sheet ) that I have seen, via the internet and television, always impress me with the beauty of their words and their music and their surroundings. Heavenly and divine aptly describe these church services where we honour peace and life, and, somehow, try to atone for the horror of war and conflict.

Now, although to a certain extent I am a person of faith, my spiritual life is more bread and butter than angels and divine inspiration, which means that, as I was  listening to the hymn this morning, my mind suddenly  jumped from wreaths on tombstones to one word…hardtack!  Yes, hardtack! Well…. it was nearly breakfast time, so quite natural that my stomach/brain would be reminding me of food. And, since an army is said to march on its stomach, I would guess most soldiers, of older times, also thought  more often of hardtack (what they would rather have, or what they could do with it!)  than their Maker.

Hardtack, as many of you may know, is a  type of plain cracker made from flour and water and salt and, in ages past, was used to sustain soldiers and sailors.  Hardtack was hard, very hard, and very long- lasting. It was a substitute for bread. In World War One, Australian and New Zealand troops ( ANZACS)  jokingly called their hardtack,  ANZAC wafers. They were also called ANZAC tiles.

According to this source,  http://definingnz.com/bully-beef-and-biscuits/ , the daily ration of an ANZAC soldier  was ”disablingly bad”  and included 7 ANZAC Wafers ( ie 7 hardtack biscuits).  Considering many soldiers  didn’t have a full set of teeth, or had false teeth,  eating the rations must often have required more energy than they had to spare. Apparently the Anzac biscuits (and the bully beef) were so inedible that, sometimes, they were merely nibbled on and then thrown in to No Man’s Land.

The Australian War Memorial  website offers a recipe for ANZAC wafers. However, I don’t suggest you try it, unless you  want to boost your dentist’s bank balance.

A happier and more nutritious alternative would be to try these delicious, crunchy rye crackers that I made, based on a  recipe  by New Zealand caterer, Ruth Pretty. I had to  bake the crackers about 15 minutes longer than suggested, to get the degree of cracker-ness that I like but, my goodness, they are good. No armed services personnel would throw these crackers in to No Man’s Land.

Rye Crackers

Rye Crackers

And, if you do make these crackers, or something similar, remember as you munch, that our service personnel once had more to fear than enemy fire. Remember too, that how we treat and train our armed services is often more  important than how we pray for them.

After bites; Captain Clark Gable had false teeth 🙂

Some viewers may not be able to see Praise Be for copyright reasons.

© silkannthreades

Often the soldiers managed no more than nibbling away at the edges before tossing the centres out into No Man’s Land. – See more at: http://definingnz.com/bully-beef-and-biscuits/#sthash.4Em0zDGB.dpuf
Often the soldiers managed no more than nibbling away at the edges before tossing the centres out into No Man’s Land. – See more at: http://definingnz.com/bully-beef-and-biscuits/#sthash.4Em0zDGB.dpuf
Our rations are 7 biscuits a day, a very little each of jam, tea & sugar & a very fat chunk of bacon. There is any amount of bully beef but only because it is poor & barely eatable. I have a struggle to get satisfied; it takes a lot of gnawing to fill up on biscuits & our 7 are as many as a man with ordinary jaws can manage. – See more at: http://definingnz.com/bully-beef-and-biscuits/#sthash.4Em0zDGB.dpuf

Rice Bread and Blossom

It seems that I am on an unstoppable bread (making ) roll…(eek, arrgh, squeak, sorry…. for a no good, horrible, very bad, but irresistible, pun 🙂 ), because, yesterday, I made some rice bread. I had some lonely, left- over cooked rice in the fridge, so I decided to use it in one my favourite recipes, Philpy, Hot Rice Bread. Philpy, is a quick (non yeast) bread which, apparently, has its origins in South Carolina.

Philpy (Hot Rice Bread)

Philpy (Hot Rice Bread)

I have been making versions of Philpy since 1987, which was the year I first discovered the recipe in American Harvest by Nava Atlas.

American Harvest by Nava Atlas

American Harvest by Nava Atlas

American Harvest, (Regional Recipes for the Vegetarian Kitchen) is a gem of a book, beautifully researched and illustrated. Every recipe comes with a small note on its history, as well as a delightful quote expertly, and often humorously, illustrated by the author. For example,  the quote for Philpy comes from Abe Martin’s Almanack, 1911, and goes like this “Q. My husband buys forty-five cents worth of mixed drinks every time I send him for a five-cent loaf of bread. How long will we keep our home? A. It takes longer to drink up some homes than it does others. Try baking your own bread. -Kin Hubbard.” Well, that may, or may not, be a helpful answer but baking your own  Philpy Hot Rice Bread is certainly a good idea. It’s easy and fun and it’s a great bread for a snack, or for breakfast, or lunch. And it goes well with lots of different toppings. Nava’s recipe is also a versatile one.  It  can be made gluten-free and dairy-free with ease. Yesterday, I made a gluten-free Philpy by using a combination of buckwheat flour and brown rice flour, instead of the usual whole wheat flour. I also whizzed  up the ingredients in the food processor, for the first time ever, and that gave my bread a very good texture. (Why has it taken me 26 years to work out that little trick????)

Come and sit with me, in the spring sunshine of Christchurch. Let  me offer you a warm slice of South Carolina Philby, spread with butter and sweet, young rhubarb compote. Sound good? It tastes good 🙂

Philpy for Tea

Philpy for Tea

Spring Blossom

Spring Blossom

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For those of you who would like to learn more about Nava Atlas, I would recommend a visit to her VegKitchen website which has links to her career as a writer and artist as well.http://www.vegkitchen.com/

And, as a little sampler of the way Nava brings joy to my baking through her art and wit and research, take a peek at my collage!

How to have fun with history, food and art

How to have fun with history, food and art

© silkannthreades

How did I do with my bread, Annie?

Some of my followers may recall that I love to make bread. I wrote about my enthusiasm for bread making Here  I haven’t made any bread for a while because I have been enjoying an upmarket-supermarket bread, made with Flax and Spelt. Yesterday, however, I was in exactly the right mood to make my own bread again, so, how timely was this post from Forest So Green http://forestsogreen.wordpress.com/2013/09/04/making-oatmeal-bread/  It’s a perfect, detailed, easy to follow recipe for making oatmeal bread.  I followed Annie’s instructions carefully; especially this very important one “While the bread is baking, it is going to smell very good.  Ignore your thoughts to open the oven door.  The bread is on its own now and it knows exactly what to do.   Just sit back, enjoy the delicious aroma, and wait for the kitchen timer to ring.”

Here is the result. How did I do Annie? The loaves aren’t as beautifully shaped as yours but they taste ever so good. Thank you for a wonderful recipe 🙂

Annie's Oatmeal Bread made by Gallivanta

Annie’s Oatmeal Bread made by Gallivanta

I know that many folk no longer eat wheat based breads because of gluten intolerance/allergies, so they won’t share my adoration of all things bread. But, for me, there is hardly anything more soothing and rewarding than the process of bread making, followed by that first bite, from that first slice, of fresh-from-the-oven bread.

© silkannthreades


Short and sweet, but not too sweet.

This post will be short and sweet, but not too sweet. It’s about cake; shortcake. Feijoa and Ginger shortcake to be precise.

Take a peek at the shortcake, freshly baked and cut. It’s rough and ready in appearance, exactly like the every day setting of my kitchen. Plain and simple; short and sweet

Now please help yourself to  a piece*….of shortcake Piece

and take a bite Tasteand let your taste buds linger on the soft buttery crust and luscious feijoa and ginger filling.

Here’s how it’s made:

110gm( 4 oz) butter & 110gm (half cup) sugar & 1 egg & 225gm flour, sifted &  1 tsp of baking powder & 7 to 9 feijoas, peeled and sliced & 9 small pieces of crystallised ginger, chopped & 2 T of sugar.

Soften butter and beat with sugar until creamy. Add egg and beat. Fold in sifted flour and baking powder. Shape into a ball and roll out on baking paper into a large oval shape. Leave the rolled pastry on baking paper and carefully place on baking tray. Slice feijoas reasonably thickly and cover half the pastry with the slices. Scatter the ginger over the fruit slices. Sprinkle with sugar. Carefully pick up ends of baking paper to ease empty half of shortcake over the feijoas. Crimp two edges together.  Bake at 170C -180C deg for about 30 minutes until cooked through and nicely browned.

The recipe was dictated to me by a friend. It is one she uses a great deal but I don’t know its origins.

Finally, here is a photo of the  feijoas, or pineapple guavas, from a  previous post. For those of you who can’t find feijoas in your markets / shops, experiment with another slightly tangy, firm fleshed fruit.  Fabulous Feijoas

*Something to chew on:

In my paternal grandmother’s family, if you were offered a ‘piece’, it meant a piece  of bread. The piece of bread would be buttered and spread with jam and then sliced off the loaf.  I don’t know if the use of the word piece in this way was widespread in early twentieth century New Zealand or was something peculiar to our family.  Please note that there is a loaf of bread in the photo collage. You are welcome to a piece 🙂

© silkannthreades

A Grand Plan

Towards the end of last year, I devised a grand plan for 2013. The aim of the plan was to improve my giving to friends and the community.  I am blessed by wonderful friends who bring me all manner of gifts: fruit, jam, soup, stews, casseroles, cakes, curries, chutney, garden produce, magazines, books, clothes and even, one time, a pair of earrings. I like to give in return and I especially like to give baked goods, in particular home-made bread.  I love to make bread. So my grand plan was to make a loaf of bread each day to give away. I made a good start but, after a week, the whole wheat flour and the bread maker machine decided to disagree, and I had so many bread failures that I gave up  trying to feed the neighbourhood. Making a half decent  loaf for my own consumption was barely manageable let alone for anyone else.

But I am nothing, if not a trier, so about ten days ago, I revisited my grand plan and returned to my bread making. Here are the results.Light Rye Bread

More breadDaily Bread

I had  fun with my bread making, and, as I mixed and kneaded and waited for the dough to rise and to bake, I realised that a few lessons had risen out of the process, too; namely, my grand plan was not grand, but grandiose! Of all the bread I made, I was only able to gift two loaves. The rest was needed for my own household.  Making bread every day might be fun but I would need super powers to make enough bread to give away a loaf a day.  More importantly, I gained a new appreciation for the words “Give us this day our daily bread”.

We are so used to thinking of bread as that basic “stuff” that we always expect to buy at the cheapest possible price from the supermarket, that we have, I believe, forgotten the wonderful  creation that bread truly is. We have cheapened bread to such an extent  that we no longer see it as  life-sustaining bounty which is brought to us by the  hard work and effort of many farmers and diverse workers, as well as the skilled hands of artisan bakers and the humble hands of home bakers.

Bread, especially daily bread ( and, dare I say it,  even supermarket bread), is a  valuable, precious gift.  Ideally, it is crafted from the best of natural and man made resources and brought to  the table with a generous serving of love. No wonder it gets top billing in the Lord’s Prayer.

Now, for those of you who are gluten intolerant, I am posting this harvest arrangement as a token acknowledgement of the delights of corn bread and gluten-free bread alternatives 🙂 Harvest

© silkannthreades

Floral notes at the close of day.

Keeping chipper today, in face of the continued machinations of bread and washing machines, has been an exercise in gritted teeth and grim determination. I have been for a walk and cleared my head, enough to laugh at the idea that the bread machine and the washing machine might do better if they swapped tasks …..and to remember that a couple of very beautiful scenes graced my day.

To dwell on the best of the day as it comes to an end here are…..

Daisy Fields at the University Gardens.Snow in Summer

Look a little closerDown

still closer Downer

And who lives here?Downest

Then, up I struggled  (creak, creak, go the knees) and off I went to look at the stars in my garden. The star jasmine with its delicate scent has been out for a while but the clematis only started to bloom a couple of days ago.Clematis and Star JasmineAnother view

© silkannthreades

My Garden of Well-Being

Last year, I was meandering through the internet, searching for ways to strengthen my support for those near and dear to me who struggle with mental health well-being.  I came across the Wellbeing Garden on this website    http://www.slam.nhs.uk/wellbeing-garden

According to the website, there are five evidence based ways, or actions, to improve personal well-being. And it matters not if your mental health is near perfect ,or less than, because these 5 actions benefit us all.The five actions  are  Connect,  Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning, and Give.

I thought I would make a good start to the New Year by working in my Wellbeing Garden. I decided my action for the day would be Give. I enjoy making bread and, usually, make a good job of it, so I set out  to make a loaf of bread to give away. I make bread by hand and by machine.  I chose the machine option for today and look what happened to my first gift of the year…….Flattened

I felt that not even my very best friend would want an improperly risen loaf, so my bread has been gifted to the birds. Not quite what I was planning but the birds are feasting. Or, as in this photo, they are considering the feasting possibilities.Birds discuss, "Is it safe to eat?"

Now, to start at the end of the list and work backwards which seems to suit my day’s endeavours gone awry:

I gave to the birds;

I learned that even failures have a plus side, even if it’s mostly for the birds;

I noticed that I didn’t take enough notice when measuring my ingredients;

I was active making bread;

I connected with the birds, my fallibility, and the mysterious wonderous art of bread making.

And I feel fine and I think the birds do too.