On Netflix there is a program called “Cooked” – watch the episode called “Air” – it is fascinating and will make you want to make your own starter and then continue to bake wonderful Sourdough Bread. Be warned,  once you have made this bread, there is no going back.
 I searched the internet and found lots of bits of information and have put together this with photos so you know when you have nailed it.
Make the Starter: This took 7 days during Autumn in Auckland –  I used High Grade White Flour. I am now using rye flour to feed the starter and this seems to give more life to the brew – many more bubbles.

For the starter, combine 200g of the flour with 200ml of lukewarm water in a non-metallic container mix well making sure you get all the bits from the sides – a glass jar is perfect. Leave it somewhere warm uncovered overnight. The following day, feed it by discarding half and adding a further 100g of flour and 100ml of lukewarm water. Repeat this feeding process every 12 hours until you see bubbles throughout the mixture.  It will take a few days, possibly more, for the mixture to pickup the natural airborne yeasts   It will happen!!!!  I was just about ready to give up – the kitchen was a mess, lots of dishes and utensils with bits of hard dough sticking to them –  I even managed to get some on the windows that set like concrete and then majically one day the bubbles came.

One day, I think I put too much water in, so the next couple of feeds, I increased the proportion of flour to water. So there is no hard and fast rule with this stuff and once you have got it , you will realise you can play around with it, using different flours.

Once it is ready you can pop it in the fridge covered with plastic wrap with a hole in it and leave it until you want to make bread, remember the starter needs to be fed at least once a week.  This is something I do when I make a loaf, if you don’t make a loaf you must feed the starter.

Photos showing starter ready to use or go back into the fridge.


To Look after starter:


Take the starter out of the fridge and bring up to room temperature. Remove 100 gms of the starter from the jar, either use to make a loaf or discard.  To feed add 50gms flour and 50 mls warm water, mix up and leave in a warm place until it has bubbled up – around 3-4 hours. Then cover with plastic wrap with a hole in it and put back into the fridge.  Repeat this every 5/6 days. If you think that the quantity of your starter is reducing, increase the feeding to 60gms flour and 60gms warm water.  You can feed your starter with any sort of flour, I have added rye flour to mine.

Starter just after feeding

Starter after feed and 4 hours in warm place ready to go back into fridge




  1. Starter
  2. Sponge
  3. Bread Dough
  4. Bread!!!



Ingredients  – Use good bread flour, white high grade makes a lighter loaf – if you opt for brown flours they need to be finely ground.


100gms starter

For the sponge 300gms

Flour 300 mls warm water\

½ tsp salt


For the bread dough

350 gms flour

60mls warm water –  – if you are hand kneading, if you have a bread maker or dough mixer you can increase the water up to 120mls -this makes a much stickier mix but it also makes a better loaf.

2  teaspoons salt


 You begin with the starter, then make the sponge, then the dough and then bake the bread. The leftover starter  you feed and keep.



A day before you want to start a loaf take the starter out of the fridge and bring up to room temperature and feed it again it  takes a few hours in the winter.  If you want a loaf with lots of holes in it you can wait another day and give it another feed, let it do its thing at a warm room temperature and then get going.  You can make the sponge without giving extra feeding but the loaf will be more dense.


Take 100 gms of the starter and put into a bowl with 300gms of flour, ½ tsp salt and 300mls of warm water. Mix well with a spatula and get all the bits off the side of the bowl. Cover with a towel and leave for several hours in a warm place until it has doubled in size and all bubbly.  This is called the sponge. (You can refrigerate the sponge onvernight but then you have to bring back up to room temperature again before adding the rest of the flour to make the bread.) In the winter it is OK to leave it out of the fridge in a cool place.

Sponge just after adding the flour, salt and water.

Sponge after 5 hours – ready to use to make bread dough or refrigerate overnight





What is left of the starter add 50gms flour,  and 50mls of warm water, leave it in a warm place until it bubbles up and then cover it with plastic wrap with holes in it and put back in the fridge.


Once the sponge is ready add 350gms flour, 2 tsps salt and 60mls of warm water to the sponge and knead for at least 10 mins – up to 120mls water if using the bread maker to do the kneading, the dough needs to be quite sticky, if it is not add a little more water to the mix.

When it feels nice and elasticy –  lightly oil the bottom of a large ceramic dish, put in the dough, cover and leave in a warm place until it doubles in size, this can take quite a few hours – sorry I can’t be specific, it just does its thing in its own time. Last one 5 hours. Depends on the temperature – don’t worry if it gets a bit cooked on top – doesn’t seem to matter – Gladwrap seems to fix that.


After kneading before 1st rise

Dough after 1st rise doubled in size

Tip the dough out and knock out the air, then shape it into a round loaf on an oiled baking tray.

Dough on oven tray – ready for 2nd proving.


Cover again and prove for about an hour  or two in a warm place  until it doesn’t spring back when poked – the dent that your finger makes stays.

Score the top of the loaf with a sharp knife.



After proving – ready to go in the oven

Preheat oven to 220 c put a tray of water at the bottom – this makes the crust crunchy.

Bake for 30mins until golden and sounds hollow when tapped.

Cooked – Loaf











The iTiMES Story

Students who have memorised the times tables at primary school level gain a foundation in mathematics that will help them through intermediate school, secondary school and further.


Standard one – Year 3 now,  my teacher was Mr Brooks – I’m not sure how old he was but probably pretty young and he was very fond of the strap.  On the high walls of the classroom were the times tables 1-12 – there were no pictures just big numbers and we would chant these every day.  By the end of the year, every child had been given the strap, not sure why, but we all knew our times tables.  I really don’t remember learning anything else that year but at the age of seven I knew my times tables 1-12.

A year or so ago – I realised that so many children were leaving primary school without knowing their times tables – some of them are in their 20’s and early 30’s.  How could that be I wondered? our children 29 and 27 respectively did learn their tables at school but we also used a set of cards put together by my sister, to help them memorise.

Lola at her desk iTiMES – I decided to take the idea of the cards to help children have instant recall of the tables.  I found a printer in Napier Brebner Print to print them and added a clip so that the kids could clip them onto their bags.  I put them up on my website 


I had interest in the iTiMES from Jude Robinson from Murupara Area School and she has been testing these with her students since July 2016.  She has had outstanding success, the children love them and clip them onto their button holes.  Jude makes up games for the children to play with the sets but mostly they learn by memorising and testing each other.

From there, I spoke to Jude about other  ideas I had for applications using the sets and we have now developed iCOLOUR




These sets are suitable for pre-school and young primary children learning Te reo Māori – one side of the card has the Māori and English words for the colour and the other side is just the colour for teaching/learning.

We hope to add more products to the range in the future.


THE IMPORTANCE OF MEMORISATION OF THE ‘TIMES TABLES’ – I urge parents and teachers to read this post from the website by Dr Audrey Tan.



In the Garden



At last dry weather to get some gardening done:

The Clivias are past their prime but they are still putting on a pretty good show.
Time to try out the Peta Easi-Grip® garden tools, these are really sturdy, good quality garden tools and are amazing for people with arthritis and weak grips and wrists.
 I really like the Easi-Grip® Trowel as I can use both hands on it to dig, you can’t do that with a conventional handled trowel.
The bright coloured handles of the Easi-Grip®  tools make them “Easy to Use and Hard to Lose”.cultivator
Romano Beans

Romano Beans

I have planted my bean seeds collected from last year’s crop – these Romano bean seeds came from my Uncle Basil, so they are many generations old.  They start cropping just before Christmas and last year we were getting beans well into April. At the end of the season leave some beans unpicked on the plants and wait until they dry out- shell and keep the seeds for the next year.  You will never have to buy new seeds.

Soak any bean, pea and sweet pea seeds 24 hours before planting.
Tomato planted on side

When you plant tomato plants, lie the plant on its side – this encourages more roots to establish making the plant stronger.

Fox Gloves in flower

Fox Gloves in flower

Spring is officially in full swing –  The Foxgloves are starting to put on their display, the ones flowering are also grown from seed from two years ago – they flower bi-annually,  they just keep self-seeding from year to year..