Better bread with science

Some months ago my son asked me to help him develop a science project

We looked over the suggested experiments and I gravitated towards those involving yeast.

We discussed ideas, he discussed them with his high school science teacher, and we settled on cooking multiple loaves of bread using different flours.

I liked the idea because using a bread machine would remove many of the variables.

It's now the second day of the school holidays and we've cooked almost half of the bread required for the report.

I'd assumed that hemp powder wasn't going to work and, although it required additional water, it seems it was too heavy to rise.

I've eaten some of it and it's okay with Vegemite, although very filling.

The big surprise just now was the result using supermarket's brand plain flour.

It's the cheapest flour we'll try and yet the result is comparable to the more expensive baker's flour, which contains higher-protein flour and also bi-carb.

The loaf is almost an extra-large size, despite being a large-size recipe.

In comparison, the Wallaby bakers flour didn't rise as high, but I guess the density is a sign of the protein content because it's definitely chewier and has a thicker crust.

Our final experiment is a blend of spelt and quinoa flours, which tasted great but didn't rise much more than the hemp powder. It was a lot tastier though.

Whitton scar


Our Riverina

A series of online videos produced with the Leeton Art Society explore the relationships between local artists and their landscapes

“I have a theory that being based in regional Australia gives artists distinct connections to their environments,” explained project coordinator Jason Richardson. “Each of the four Leeton Shire artists had landscape artworks to discuss and it was interesting to learn how their art-making had changed the way they see our region.”

Three-time Paniz Prize winner Lynne McQuillan discussed her love of the Murrumbidgee River, as well as the Impressionistic style that lends itself to representations of light falling through the River Red Gum forests on the banks.

Lifelong Murrami resident Dorothy Roddy outlined the inspiring landscape and the variations she can watch from sunrise to sunset.

Vita Vitelli shared her memories of her Father Frank Bruno Snr, living and working on the farm on Toorak Road, now Toorak Wines; and explaining how  picking up a paintbrush changed her outlook.

While longtime Leeton Art Society member Glenn Saddler reflected on the perspective he gained while studying and how it motivated him to become involved in creating opportunities for artistic expression when he returned home.

The videos will make the artists accessible to a wide audience but the original proposal was to run a series of exhibitions across the region.

“The Our Riverina project has adapted to the uncertainty we’ve all experienced in 2020, as well as the requirement for social-distancing. We’re hoping an exhibition planned for early 2021 will still go ahead,” said Mr Richardson.

“Viewing art is an opportunity to look at something through the eyes of another, so I hope that people will enjoy getting a fresh perspective on local scenes and learning something about a handful of the talented Leeton Shire artists.”

“I mention in my curator talk video that the environment has been a collaborator in my audiovisual works, so I was keen to learn how other Leeton Shire artists reflected our region. It proved to be a stimulating conversation topic as each shared details of connections to the countryside and how art had enriched their life.”

“Each was keen to see more people try art and discover the benefits for themselves and I appreciate the Leeton Art Society for providing opportunities for self-expression and supporting local art initiatives.”

The videos will be shared on the Leeton Art Society’s Facebook page during July, see www.facebook.com/leetonartsocietyinc

Our Riverina is supported by Create NSW’s Country Arts Support Program, a devolved funding program administered by Regional Arts NSW and Western Riverina Arts on behalf of the NSW Government.

Fivebough at the Heart of Leeton

When Leeton artist Jason Richardson started discussing a collaboration with the Community Op Shop in 2019, they could not predict that 2020 would have other plans

After a delay, the result will be a display during July in the Shop’s main street windows on the theme of Fivebough Wetlands.

“A lot of people know Fivebough as a swamp and I get the impression that relatively few locals have visited it,” said Jason Richardson.

“It’s a beaut place to walk around and you can usually spot majestic pelicans and graceful black swans, as well as a variety of other birds.”

“The significance of the site is actually incredible and the Wetlands should be seen as a jewel in the Riverina’s crown. This project aims to raise the profile of the site and hopefully help Leeton find greater pride in Fivebough.”

That site has a global significance recognised by the United Nations’ Ramsar Convention.

In a comparison of 360 wetlands as part of the Murray-Darling Basin Waterbird Project, Fivebough recorded the highest number of waterbird species and it ranked second for the total number of species recorded in a single survey.

The display notes the Wetland is a “popular international travel destination” for the migratory birds it hosts and the human admirers who visit to see them.

“Back in 2019 when we began discussing developing an art project, we arrived at using the community at Fivebough as a metaphor for the role the Op Shop plays in the Leeton,” said Jason Richardson.

“There’s a proverb ‘Birds of a feather flock together’ and it prompted me to think how the Shop take pride in being a place for everyone in Leeton. In a similar way Fivebough hosts a diverse community too, with over one hundred bird species.”

Leeton Community Op Shop make their windows available for displays to promote our town and welcome contract via Facebook or phone 6953 5664.

Originally the Fivebough project planned to develop a display during the Easter school holidays to coincide with the street parade, but that idea had to be reworked for social-distancing after the emergence of Covid-19.

While the scale of the installation has shrunk, it will have a longer lifespan.

“As I was planning activities to coincide with the project, Kathy Tenison from Landcare asked if I’d considered using the display at Fivebough after it had been exhibited in Leeton.

“It shifted my medium from paste-ups to designing a banner that will be installed at the Wetlands and, when I liked the look of that, I ordered stickers to be printed as well.”

The vinyl bumper stickers will be available for sale at locations in Leeton for $2 each or you can contact Jason Richardson to order three for $5, including postage.

“It’d be great to see Leeton displaying their Fivebough pride because each sticker purchased will also be assisting with the development on local arts projects.”

Fivebough at the Heart of Leeton is supported by Create NSW’s Country Arts Support Program, a devolved funding program administered by Regional Arts NSW and Western Riverina Arts on behalf of the NSW Government.

Matong Park after Red Earth Ecology

One year on from Red Earth Ecology’s urban regeneration weekend in Matong village and the park is thriving

In June 2019 Burners from Matong, the Riverina and interstate came together to revegetate private and public spaces using plants endemic to the area.

Here are recent images of the garden at Matong Park, which looks fantastic.

Thanks to the locals who watered and weeded to ensure the seedlings survived their first tough summer with very little loss of life.

The watering system installed by Coolamon Shire Council will benefit the area.

While Red Earth Ecology has had to postpone all activities for 2020, we will be back planting together in 2021.

Everyone deserves an arts degree

The other day I recognised a woman at the supermarket and decided to tell her how much I enjoyed a poetry event she'd run a while back

"Are you thinking about another?"

"I'm finishing year 12," she replied and I've been thinking about her since.

When I finished year 12 it was in the middle of a recession and uni courses were difficult to access. I ended up repeating the year and improved my tertiary entrance score by around 30% and got into an arts degree.

This year will see a similar increase in demand for degrees with the rise in unemployment and the Coalition Government have decided to raise fees, rather than invest in more university places.

I recall reading a piece that suggested that the state of the job market when you enter full-time employment shapes your earnings over your life.

It brings into focus that the current year 12 students might be battling to start a degree, saddled with increased debt for their studies, and will then continue to see those annual letters reminding them of how much they owe on their qualifications for decades to come.

I hope she continues to find some solace in poetry.