5 little lessons I’ve learnt from blogging

apples || cityhippyfarmgirl

This little blog is now five years old. I’ve been writing, musing, dropping kitchen crumbs, taking pictures and sitting under the name cityhippyfarmgirl for five years now. Now how did half a decade zip by while I sat next to my computer? Well to be honest, I’m not really sure. What I do know though, is that five years is a wonderful amount of time to have learnt lots of bloggy lessons…Lots of them!

If you would like to pull up a chair, grab an apple or perhaps a slice of shortcake and linger awhile, I’ll share with you five lessons I’ve learnt in that time.

1/ Always write down your thoughts or recipes as you go along.

For recipes, I will never, ever remember the quantities and cooking times of what ever I am making. For thoughts, that seem so clear and unforgettable, they seem to disappear without even an audible “poofff” (despite all the very best intentions.) Five years on, you think I would have had this one firmly embedded in my brain. Nope, it isn’t though, I still occasionally forget and think that my memory can’t honestly be that bad, and of course I will remember. (It is that bad, and I do forget.)

Note to self, don’t forget, that I…well, forget.

sourdough || cityhippyfarmgirl

2/ There is always more to learn with bread baking.

What an amazing thing bread baking can be. To be always learning from and tweaking something as simple as flour, water, salt. I still get bubbles of excitement bringing a loaf out of the oven. What will it look like, how much of a spring will it have? No loaf is ever the same. Never. Not a one.

Life gives different loaves. In ways of weather, timing, distractions, commitments, forgetfulness, ingredients, new flour- they all play a part in my sourdough being different every single time. And really, how awesome is that!

3/ Photography, another big lesson.

I look back on photos I thought were pretty much ok, and can’t help but chuckle. Cameras have been and gone, techniques have changed along with them and knowledge is still to be gained in abundance with my photography. What I do know is that I get a kick out of taking photos and I can’t imagine that changing for a long time. I don’t think this photo from my first month of blogging back in 2010 would have been pinned too often. I do know it was a delicious pie though (recipe here) and remember all of us eating it with much gusto.

cityhippyfarmgirl

1st edition Jan 2010

cityhippyfarmgirl

2nd edition Jan 2013

apple shortcake pie || cityhippyfarmgirl

3rd edition Feb 2015

4/ Which leads me to my next lesson. Remembering.

Now I’ve already established at times, I’m not so good at remembering things. This is where having a blog is truly wonderful. It does the remembering for you. It’s my online diary of a sort. It stores many more day to day things, words, pictures, memories than I would have ever thought to remember.

Not to mention my recipes. I cook and bake a lot. Before having a blog I would have countless scrappy bits of paper dotted about the place, usually being lost between other bits of paper. Now I have them all here. Sure It’s a little weird having to go to the internet for your own recipes but hey it seems to work. I usually put a lot of time and effort into my recipes, bringing a concept to life, tweaking, changing, experimenting until I’ve got it just right. Sometimes they can be months and months in the making. I still feel slightly uneasy about other people using those recipes and putting them up on their own site without any reference, words or thanks given, a recipe now it’s their very own- it seems a murky copyright world, with well pretty much everything these days. So all I can do is know that what I’m doing sits right with me, and that’s what matters right?

Another wonderful thing about having a blog to help you remember is the feelings and emotions that might have slipped between the metaphorical pages. Tiny moments captured, which in another time would have been swept away to live only in my own memory bank…or to simply slip between the cracks altogether.

community || cityhippyfarmgirl

5/ Community.

I’ve waxed lyrical about the online community many, many times before. It will never get old speaking enthusiastically of all the people who make up this always evolving digital community. It’s pretty wonderful to be a part of that. When digital names spill over to lovely long emails, or names on the backs of envelopes, plump packages from people half a world away. Or coffee and picnics with people who were once just a gravatar. That’s pretty darn wonderful.

Through the online community I’ve also discovered more and more small businesses and people who I want to support with my careful dollar. Conscious shopping the way it should be- Instead of those coins going to a blank face that means nothing to me. I will repeat these words a thousand times, as it really is incredibly important to me.

apple pie || cityhippyfarmgirl

6/ Evolve and make your own rules up.

Now wait a second, didn’t I say this was to be five? Yes, I did but this is the beauty of lesson number six. If I want to put six up I can, I can do that, I can make my own rules up here. Yes I can.

I’ve also learnt to roll with it all. If something is bugging me I’ll change it. If I don’t want to do something, I don’t. I’ve learnt over these five years that for a blog to evolve you really have to ride with it, social media is an ever evolving thing and with that, well you have to be as well.

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How about you, if you have a blog what lessons have you learnt as a blogger. Or, if you are a reader what lessons have you learnt from reading blogs?

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apple and oat muffin season

Slack jawed, and with my elbow cast at an odd angle, my eyelids creaked open. It seemed I had fallen asleep. These things happen sometimes. It’s  called the sneaky nap. Not a nap that you sneak in, more a nap that sneaks up on you.

There you are going about your business, and then suddenly… whooshka! You wake up slack jawed and no feeling in your arm. The sneaky nap as struck again.

Bleary eyed I staggered out to the lounge room only to find things were looking a little different. Very different. I couldn’t put my finger on it. The Monkeys were quiet and going about their monkey business, surprisingly not causing havoc at that particular moment. So it wasn’t them.

I continued looking about. Things looked clearer, clearer than they had for quite some time. I didn’t think I had napped for that long, so it can’t have been clarity of thought that had returned. I squinted… then it dawned on me, that was it. The fact that I was squinting. Squinting in my lounge room. Squinting in the afternoon autumnal sunlight. At that same moment Mr Chocolate cheerily walked in with a wad of newspaper in hand, and proceeded back to the windows. The light was different…

That was it. The windows were clean!

To celebrate the soft autumn light, and to use up some seasonal apples, Apple Oat Muffins it was.

Apple and Oat Muffins

150g softened butter

3/4 cup raw sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup of whole oats

1 1/2 cups self raising flour

2 beaten eggs

3 grated apples *

Cream butter and sugar together. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Spoon mixture into lined muffin tray. Sprinkle with a little extra raw sugar. Bake at 190C for approximately 25 minutes.

*Apple season runs from January to May.

Apple and Oat Bread

I quite like the process of trying to work out what to put in a new bread every few weeks.

There are the regulars of course, like a well worn pair of slippers that I know how to just slip on. Making it is straight forward, I can easily do it with out that much thought behind it, and I know for the most part how it’s going to taste (sourdough does like to keep me on my toes a little though.) When I’m fiddling with different flavours though, I like the balancing act, the unknown factor…

It’s a bit like ordering from a menu in a foreign language. You think you get the idea of what it will taste like, and what it is that you might be ordering but there is always that element of surprise just waiting to be brought to the table.

Now in the past, I had played with using fresh apples a few times. I had cooked them beforehand, thinly sliced them, made them into chunks, grated them, but I think I’ve decided I like finely diced the most. You still get the apple-y taste, without it getting soggy and overly all apple. Grating the apple, while I like the moistness it gives to the loaf, I do find by doing this it loses the flavour a bit. So diced it was for this one, add some soaked oats, a little spice and we are away…

 Apple and Oat Bread

200g starter

100g finely diced apple

425g bakers flour

100g whole oats

50mls hot water

200mls water

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp coriander

1 tsp salt

Soak oats in the hot water until they plump up. Add all ingredients except salt. Mix well, let if it rest for about 40 minutes, add the salt mix again.

Proof for awhile, quick knead, proof, shape, proof. Bake at 240C with steam.

This post submitted to yeastspotting.