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Dennis Country

Welcome to my blog ...

Please send me an email if you wish to leave a comment. My website includes sections on the environment, green woodworking and some industrial history photos from Gwent, UK.

No Need To Knead Bread Method

Miscellaneous Posted on Sat, December 26, 2020 04:11PM

… or wait 18 hours to rise, or touch with hands at all. I thought I’d discovered a new, not-so-messy bread making method, but I see that’s not the case after searching the internet. This is what worked for me, in about 2 hours. (Updated and simplified Feb 2021)

Ingredients: (see later on for different flour weights)

350g (12oz) plain flour (in this case 30% white, 70% with grain)
0.5 teaspoon salt (optional)
0.5 teaspoon sugar
1-2 teaspoons olive oil (optional, or butter etc.)
1 teaspoon dried yeast
200ml water (warmed)


  1. Mix 50ml of lukewarm water with sugar and yeast, leave for 5 mins
  2. Put flour in a baking tray or bowl, add salt, olive oil
  3. With a strong dessert spoon (or spatula), stir in the yeast mixture and most of the water.
    Work with the spoon for a few minutes, adding a little more water if required until dough is consistent and can be shaped.
  4. Place dough on a baking tray or in baking tin(s). Cover and leave in a warm place for 60-90 mins. I use a pre-warmed cooker grill compartment. The dough should have doubled in volume after this time.
  5. Bake in the centre of an oven, preheated to gas mark 6-7, for approx. 30 minutes. Remove and cool on a rack.
Flour to Water (ml) Chart (approximate)

There are so many variables in this process, including ingredients, dough resting time, oven setting etc., so some experimentation may be needed to get the desired product. Although traditional methods often have two stages (mix/rest and knead/rest), I found that just one stage produced good results, but that may not be suitable for some bread types.

I haven’t researched why kneading is required in traditional recipes, but I suppose it would at least strengthen arms, or maybe increase the demand for bread making machines.

Some Fairly Useless Signs …

Miscellaneous Posted on Mon, August 24, 2020 10:59AM

Maybe there’s a “most useless sign” competition this could be entered into. In recent years many of these “Community Links” signs have appeared in town, but I wonder why. Perhaps it’s a requirement of a funding body. Whatever the reason it seems a waste of money, environmental resources, and space. If the signs gave some idea of where you were or where they were pointing to it would be useful, they don’t. They merely point in the direction of where a road and/or path goes; we can see that surely. In most cases the road or path has been present for 50+ years. I wonder if there’ll be a phase 2 in which links to non-community places will be have unnecessary signs installed, payed for by …?

Can TV etc. Remote Controls Be Repaired?

Miscellaneous Posted on Mon, May 18, 2020 10:23PM

From my experience faulty remote controls for TVs etc. can often be made to work again, especially if just some buttons don’t work. Firstly, it’s worth checking that the batteries are OK, and also that the terminals and compartment connections are clean. If they are dirty or corroded cleaning with contact cleaner fluid might work. If batteries are OK it’s necessary to dismantle the remote, however there is some risk of damaging it in the process. Accepting that risk I usually check if there are any fixing screws, but on more modern remotes two halves of the case have to be prised gently apart.

dismantled Sharp TV remote control

In this case the inside of the keypad and the circuit board required cleaning with tissue paper, nothing abrasive of course. I also used contact cleaner spray with no ill effects, but it’s not essential. On re-assembly it worked as new, although I didn’t get the positioning of the round pad correct at first. I’ve done this several times on some remotes, but with a lot of use the contacts may wear away. Apart from saving money by buying a new one, it’s one less thing to be discarded / recycled for about 20 minutes effort.

Cheap Extractor Fan Filter

Miscellaneous Posted on Thu, March 03, 2016 09:10PM

After a few years one of my ceiling extractor fans wasn’t working well, and I found that the fan and ducting had become clogged with fibres drawn in through the vent. It was hard work to remove and clean the fan and replace the ducting, so I decided to put a simple filter behind the ceiling vent to reduce the need for maintenance. For a filter, I used a couple of cable ties and some mesh similar to that used to package fruit (in this case the mesh packaging of a new duct section). The photo below shows the “press fit” filter in place in the frame of the ceiling duct – some fibres have been caught after a period of use.
Of course it’s important to ensure that the “filter” cannot impact the fan blades – here the tension of the cable ties holds the mesh in place at the start of a 1 metre long duct. I made a second filter, shown in comparison with the partially clogged one in the photo below.

Stock Fence Strainer Post Strut

Miscellaneous Posted on Fri, July 31, 2015 10:15AM

In this thrilling installment I’ve included a couple of photos of my trial of a way of installing a straining post strut, based on a method described in the Forestry Commission online booklet “Technical Guide – Forest Fencing” (60 pages, not fully studied yet). In this method the strut is not embedded in the ground. I placed the end of the strut on a flat stone, secured with a nail through the “thrust plate” stake. The stake is tensioned towards the straining post using strands of wire, but there seems to be an error in Fig. 5a on page 7 of the document – the wire should be on each side of the strut.

I thought an advantage of this method was that the strut may be less liable to rot, and the wire could help prevent the strut slipping laterally. I’m not sure about using a nail to fix the strut to the stake, but I used one having pre-drilled the stake to reduce any tendency for it to split. A possible disadvantage to consider is that animals may get caught in the straining wire, but a section of stock wire could be fixed to the normally unwired side. As usual, I failed to line up the struts on the straining post, but perhaps that may weaken it less.
Note: This was part of a relatively short fence (10m + 30m) which didn’t require a very high tension, hence the small diameter straining post and short struts).

Update Feb 2019
I’ve added a photo of the completed fence section, but I don’t know if it’s still standing! In this situation, with the wire on the inside of an angle less than 180 degrees, the wire is routed around the back of the strainer, so that the post holds the wire tension not the staples. (click for larger image)

Eclipse 2015

Miscellaneous Posted on Fri, March 20, 2015 07:33PM

I snapped this image of the partial eclipse in south Wales on 20 March 2015 at about 9:14am. I held binoculars in one hand to project an image onto a garden bench, camera in the other hand – surprisingly something recognisable was captured!

Garden Screens

Miscellaneous Posted on Sun, June 02, 2013 09:57PM

Just made a “rustic” screen to put in front of a mahonia shrub which blackbirds had decided to nest in – to give in a bit more protection against cats etc.. Commercially available “wattle” screens can look impressive, but it’s possible to make your own, especially if there is some suitable wood to hand.
This screen was thrown together quickly (obviously), and is about 5 x 5 feet (150 x 150 cm), has hazel uprights, with willow and hawthorn brush wood woven horizontally. This should last a couple of years, but could be made more durable depending on the types of wood used (woven split hazel rods are traditionally used). A jig is useful to hold the bottom of the vertical stakes in place during construction. In this case, timber about 7ft x 4ins x1.5ins (210 x 10 x 4 cm), with holes drilled at about 6 ins (15cm) intervals. This would normally be removed after building, but this one has been left in situ.Another rustic screen (my preferred and only type), with tools and jig.

Snow Shoes

Miscellaneous Posted on Mon, April 01, 2013 11:02PM

These are some strap on snow shoes I made from hazel and willow a couple of years ago. I used wire to bind the sticks together – more traditional materials could be string made from nettle or bramble stems
The wood was green when I made them, and is now well seasoned. They are cheap and lightweight, more emergency equipment rather than for long distance. An improvement for the next pair would be to make the horizontal pieces a ‘U’ shape and weave into the sides.
They worked for several 100 metres where the snow was not continuous or partially melted, and should have done more in “good” snow. It’s useful to carry string etc. to carry out repairs if required. A two strap binding method worked, and I found an old cycle inner tube was also effective as a fastening.