Wednesday, 26 May 2010

more golden syrup

Here's another recipe using golden syrup.  We always had some of this in the tin when I grew up.  I usually use more ginger than the recipe suggests as I love the flavour of it.  Sorry no photos of this one, but I think many of you will recognise it.  I've seen it with pieces of crystallised ginger pushed into the icing but I've never done that -I keep that ginger to myself!

  • 125 g butter, softened 
  • 125 g white sugar (preferably caster sugar, but not essential) 
  • 220 g SR flour .  Some recipes use plain flour and add a teaspoon of baking powder.
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger.  I use two heaped teaspoons.

  • 60 g butter, chopped 
  • 125 g icing sugar 
  • 1 tablespoon golden syrup 
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger.  More if you like it strong.

Heat oven to about 190°.  Mix dry ingredients together and rub in butter.  You can do this by hand or it works well in a food processor.  Grease a slice tin  and press the mix into the tin.  Using the back of a dessertspoon helps in this.  Cook till beginning to turn golden in colour, probably about 15 minutes depending on your oven.
As it cooks, prepare the icing.  Put all ingredients into a small pan and warm over a low heat, stirring while butter melts and sugar dissolves.
When slice is cooked, allow it to cool just a couple of minutes and then pour icing over it. Don't let slice get cold.  Tilt the tray to cover all the slice and then allow it to set.
Warning 1: If you like golden syrup as much as I do, don't try to increase the amount in the icing mix.  Icing will not set but be gooey and sticky if you use too much syrup.
Warning 2:While this keeps well in a tin and is very nice with a cup of tea or coffee, it is also addictive.  Or at least I find it so.

brangian shawl done

Here's a very poor photo of my first Brangian shawl by Bronwyn Parry.

The rain is bucketing down here in Sydney, there's a southerly change forecast and thunderstorms for this afternoon.  Just the weather for a shawl.  It's very dark here, in fact it was so dark just after 6:00 am when I normally get up, that I turned over and went back to sleep for another hour.   I don't have to be up early, that's just what normally happens.  Because it's so dark, I took the photo inside but that light didn't work very well at all either.

I haven't blocked the shawl yet, I'll wait for better weather.  You can see, despite the general blurriness, an unintended variation.  There's a ruffle on the edge which isn't in the pattern.  I actually quite like it and will leave it there.

I was knitting the last chart yesterday.  I had a sinus infection which was giving me a lot of pain in my face and also had a massive headache, possibly from the infection, possibly from stress.Through the pattern are very many centred double decreases, YO, slip 1, knit 2 together, psso, YO.   My fingers ere doing it automatically.  The stitch count was increasing dramatically and I wondered why I hadn't seen any reference to that increase  on the Ravelry KAL for the shawl.  No alarm bells went off and I  continued through thirteen rows doing YOs in a vertical column and the decrease mentioned above as well.

What I was actually doing was increasing by 2 stitches in every 8 stitch pattern repeat across the pattern rows.  When I cast off, I had almost 700 stitches,  It was a time consuming cast off too, purl 2 together, put stitch back on left needle and repeat across row.  It's a very stretchy cast off and will block well, but 700 stitches?  It took ages.

Light dawned on my mistake as I fell asleep last night.  I'm going to leave it, it looks pretty and I say that although I'm not really into ruffles much at all. Besides I'd have to knit it back stitch by stitch and I just can't face that.  I'll block the shawl up to the end of the second chart.

Southerly change must be on its way.  I've just noticed that the  rain is now hitting hard against my south facing window/door.

The yarn is from Lush Yarns and is 50/50 merino/silk, lovely to work with.  The colour is called Jamaica, although to me it looks like a port wine magnolia colour, or perhaps some  crushed boysenberries.

I found these two quotes on Bron's ABOUT page on her blog where the pattern is.  I've often thought about the first quote and totally agree with it.  There's no definition of beauty there, it's in the eye of the beholder as the saying goes.  However we need it.

I find the second quote interesting too.  "Beauty of the warm and familiar which leads to keeping such things close at hand to use.  Beauty in everyday things which gives a beauty of intimacy.  Just so.

The following two quotes pretty much sum up my yarnosophy:

‘Beauty is not optional. I am convinced that everyday objects can and must be beautiful because the beauty surrounding us feeds our souls. Perhaps we can survive without beauty, but I don’t see how we can thrive and be fully alive without it.’ Sharon Alderman (weaver), Handwoven Magazine, November/December 1995 p. 46.

“The special quality of beauty in crafts is that it is a beauty of intimacy…. The beauty of such objects is not so much of the noble, the huge or the lofty, as a beauty of the warm and familiar. Here one may detect a striking difference between the crafts and the arts. People hang their pictures high upon the wall, but they place their objects for everyday use close to them, and take them in their hands”.    Soetsu Yanagi.

Here's a reference to Soetsu Yanagi.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

saturday camera show and tell

One thing we miss about Killara is the birds.  We don't miss the  hundreds of mynahs, both native and Indian which used to harass us and the cat.  We do  miss the kookaburras and their last call in the summer evenings about 9:00 pm.  We miss the magpies and currawongs and the lorikeets and others of the same species.

While there are quite a few trees around here including native trees, there are nowhere near as many birds.  We have some mynahs.  There were five which used to sit on the dividing fence.  There are now seven.  They are very opportunistic.  They sit and watch the puppies next door.  When the pups are otherwise occupied, the birds swoop on the dried food left for the dogs.  We've even had them come into the airlock here for the cat food when the screen door has been left open for her to get out.

I've heard the big sulphur crested cockatoos overhead and seen tiny wrens in the vegetation next to the train line.  Some lorikeets eat the berries on the street trees.

I've not seen any pigeons but we do have doves.  The pictures are of a baby dove.  It was late in the afternoon when I saw it on the fence, so pictures are blurry.  That was a few days ago.  I saw it again today with its mother, (guessing here).  Today was cold and wet and it was sitting on the fence, quite miserable with fluffed up feathers.  In the lower picture it's sitting near the edge of the fence wondering if it should fly.  Mum had flown to the fence on the other side of the yard.  It did eventually take off and land somewhat awkwardly on the fence next to her.

There is also another hormonally challenged dove which has been building a nest in the blackberries hanging down from the train line since we moved here, just before Christmas.  It continually brings twigs and grass for the nest, but is frightened of the vegetation moving.  Sometimes it actually lands, other times it's scared away when the breeze from a passing train makes the blackberries move and sway.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

more golden syrup

I have been knitting but really, lace looks nothing but a mess till it's blocked.  I'm into the second repeat of the first lace chart on the Brangian shawl.  I'm using the Jamaica 50/50 silk /merino mix from Lush yarns and it's coming along nicely.  Ailsa's second offering from the Japanese themed yarn club arrived here the other day.  I forgot to take a photo of it.  It's beautiful, 50/50 merino/silk too.  It's a gorgeous colour as I wrote to her.  It's a mix of a watermelon and  deeper red.  I don't know what I'll make with it yet but it will need to be extra good to match the yarn.

We hardly ever eat a second course here.  We may have an entrĂ©e and then a main dish, but it's usually just a main dish with very many vegetables which we all enjoy.  However, since the weather turned cooler, one or other of us has wistfully mentioned  "just a little bit of something sweet, perhaps."  The other night we opened DIL's mum's panforte which she makes every year.  We've only just  finished the one made for Christmas 2008.  It keeps really well, is very rich and we serve a piece occasionally, just a bit bigger than a small square of chocolate.  Such a tiny piece is all that is needed.  However, we were all longing for something sweet the other night, so we opened the latest one.

It was very cold and wet here last night.  Potato bake went well with sausages, but son wanted something else more and made strong hints about golden syrup tart.  Nostalgia for childhood.  There must be something about golden syrup which seems to evoke memories for many people.

I grew up in a family where mum stayed at home and dad worked.  He was a primary school teacher at a time when teachers were really very poorly paid here.  There were three children.  I was  often sick and in hospital and there were many medical expenses.  However, we always had plenty of food, nothing fancy, and usually quite healthy.  Lots of homegrown vegetables too and some fruit, both  from the garden too in summer.  Looking back I see my mum really managed very well at the time.

This tart was a favourite dessert.  Super easy, at least for me to make.  I  rarely make pastry these days, I use the frozen packets.  Mum made really good pastry, hers at the time was made with clarified dripping  from the roasts.

Heat oven till fairly hot.  Line pie dish with pastry.  Sprinkle rolled oats, the proper sort, not the instant stuff, over the pastry.  Don't make the layer too thick or the syrup won't penetrate it all.  Spoon golden syrup over the oats and bake in a hottish oven till pastry is well browned.  Oh, it's essential to decorate the edges with the back of a fork pressed into the pastry.  The tart won't taste quite right unless you do this!  LOL.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

saturday camera show and tell

This was taken on our memorial picnic for Mum's birthday a couple of weeks ago.  It's taken around the point at Pearl Beach, looking back towards Palm Beach. Pittwater is on the right with the sailing boat and the mouth of the Hawkesbury River around the point hard right. No prizes for guessing that the name of this island is Lion Island.  It must have been named from this side, as it it is nothing like a lion from the other side.  There are few easy landing spots and the island rises steeply almost from the water.  Landings were prohibited when I was a child at Pearl Beach and may still be.  I don't know if this is just hearsay but the talk was that the place was overrun with snakes. The tide is well out and much more of the rock platform can be seen than usual.  This place has beautiful rock pools with an enormous variety of weed and creatures.  I know few places quite like it in NSW.  I've spent many happy hours exploring the pools, climbing the steeper rocks at the back, having picnics and enjoying myself.

Friday, 14 May 2010

good and bad

This morning I went for a long walk as I needed to clear my head after some unsettling communications from my solicitor yesterday. I decided to visit the new yarn shop in Newtown, as far down the Tempe end of King Street as Champion Textiles had been at the Sydney end. Now geography or topography actually, plays a part in my walk. King Street which is really the Prince's Highway, runs the length of Newtown shops and veers like part of the letter "Y." I can easily walk to Enmore Road which is the other part of the "Y." However, ne'er the twain shall meet. Or not easily. There is very little access from one of these roads to the other. I missed one of the cross streets which went vaguely in the direction I needed. I walked quite a long way and eventually found my way through.

The new yarn shop is just a couple of shops from the well established button shop which has been there a long time. It's just over the road from a bead shop. Blogger badskirt visited the shop recently and you can see her pictures in the post. I had a pot of herb tea, having had my day's ration of coffee. Service was good and I also spoke with the owner Ellie and mentioned a few suppliers. She had yarn from Wired for Fibre on the shelves and was unpacking several different types for display. The place was comfortable and light and airy, much unlike the other shop now gone. I then walked a long way up to the Dendy theatre, had some lunch and walked back down Bedford Street and passed the spot where a young fellow was hit by a train and killed a few days ago.

So a new yarn shop counts as good.

Another good thing is the service I had from Lush Yarns in delivering some 50/50 merino and silk. I'm making the Brangian shawl, on Bells recommendations. More good here and lots of it. The shawl is beautiful. Pattern comes in several sizes. It's very neatly set out and quite detailed and well written. Variations on a theme are suggested. There is a list of FAQs for the shawl. There's even a Ravelry group doing a KAL with the pattern. Particularly helpful is a page which gives the percentage of the shawl for each of its parts. This is useful if a variation is done and very useful for calculating if there's enough yarn for another repeat etc. All in all, very good all over and an inexpensive pattern too, considering what comes with it.   I can see me doing more than one of these.

Now for the other side. I ws planning on making an 8 ply jumper for a two year old. Basically charity knitting, this would be. I hunted high and low for something to go by. Then I found a cute pattern on Ravelry, (Where else, I hear you say).  There were several other patterns by this designer.  Rather than reinvent the wheel, I bought the pattern, a PDF download.  The cost was almost identical to the well written shawl pattern mentioned above.  I doubt if this jumper designer will get more custom from me.

The PDF came in two parts, front cover page and then the pattern.  This was not immediately obvious, at least to me, and I wondered what had gone wrong with my download.

I find it useful to read through the pattern before I start to see if there is anything unusual. Hmmm... what's this?  Under requirements, the pattern simply says "(name of country) merino."   That's it.  Nothng more.  I emailed her and the answer came direct, "5 balls."  Not really very informative, is it?  No weight, no length, no brand  mentioned.

The jumper has a lacy pattern on the front, nothing fancy or involved.  I could probably work it out if I had a few minutes and some graph paper.  I looked through to see what it was like.  There were several pages of instructions for knitting the jumper, but no chart.  Remembering the separate PDF for the front page, I had another look to see if the chart came separately.  There is NO chart!  Just on 30 rows of pattern and none of it is charted.  I could do it by following the pattern through, but why should I?  This pattern came at an almost identical price to the well written one for the shawl. That pattern is clear, concise, charted, suggestions and ideas given.  This has no charts, is not even well spaced but bunched up, is uninformative about required yarn and has no schematics.

If I had any idea that there were no charts of the design I would not have considered it at all.  I feel ripped off.

Monday, 10 May 2010

baby leopard socks

Here's some more of Ailsa's new sock wool.  I had mentioned to her how hard it was to find orange tones in sock wool for children.   When she dyed this, she remembered my comment and emailed me asking if I would like it.  It's the same yarn as the cute February Baby sweater of a few posts down.  The colour is  "baby leopard."  It looks fairly accurate here.

I took it to grandson's place yesterday.  He loved them.  Orange has been his favourite colour for a couple  of years now.  He's four and still a very concrete thinker.  He told me several times that they were SOCKS, not baby leopards!  His cousin is seven.  These are the same length as I made her latest pair, but I cast on another six stitches as he has a very broad foot.  They fit nicely.  It was chilly up there this morning, more than chilly actually.  He dressed himself in shortsleeved top, shorts, his new socks and gum boots.

I've been working on a pair of fingerless gloves in Bendigo's Mystique.  These will be for a friend who's lived most of her life in Queensland.  She's now in Mallacoota on the Victorian coast  where it can be very cold in winter.  I made her a  scarf from Welsh mohair before  she went, and thought gloves would be good too.

I worked out the pattern and made one up.  It was really a bit sloppy.  I thought of various fixes for it.  Then I realised none of them was practical.  After all, who can tie a bow on the back of a wrist with one hand?  I ripped it all back and started again with fewer stitches.  It's worked well but I need to do the second glove.  A lacy insert goes up the centre with moss stitch on either side.  I worked out a gusset below the thumb, then picked up stitches for thumb later and knit it.   A few decreases in the last two rows pulls edge in nicely and I finished it with a band of moss stitch around the hand.  It feels very warm, so I hope they fit.

As I said, it was  quite cool this morning, not before time.  When I changed the sheets on my bed, I also found my enormous pi blanket which I made in 12 ply last year.  It covers this futon double bed well, so I've kept it handy.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

saturday camera show and tell

Herewith one grumpy, sulking twelve year old Sweetpea refusing to look at me on my first floor balcony.  She's been shut outside for about an hour and her face shows her displeasure.  Madam is not amused.  She is refusing to acknowledge my presence.  There's no wind, it's quite mild.  If we don't shut her out in the morning after her breakfast , we often find a pile she's chucked in some place inside.

This isn't a total cure.  She seems able to produce something to express her displeasure at will.  Always near the belongings of the person who has currently offended her.  However, it works most days.  The airlock system we have here now works a dream.  When I come down in the morning, I put her breakfast in the bowl which is between the two outside doors.  As she eats, I open the outer glass door and screen door and quietly slide the inner glass door shut.  She knows this is going to happen but pretends to get a surprise every day.

Yesterday I heard DIL whistling in the third floor office.  Sweetpea usually responds to being whistled like a dog.  Whistling went on and on.  She had used one of the chairs on the top balcony to jump onto the railing and then into next door's balcony.   She eventually decided to grace us  with her presence, but because DIL spoke to her as she jumped back, she promptly did it all again and took her own sweet time coming back.  We've had to move the table and chairs well away from the side walls of the balcony.  A few years ago, she would have done it without any assistance from chairs, but she old now and the pelvis which was broken in an attack by dogs 18 months ago has healed, but is partially out of alignment.  The vet did the best he could, but so much damage was done that it's amazing she pulled through at all.  It's certainly affected her agility.  As a kitten she once jumped the fence at son's place, escaped and then came back with an enormous king prawn, apparently lifted from a bowl on someone's BBQ.  Several times!  We never did find who was several king prawns short.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

golden syrup steamed pudding

Cindy mentioned a recipe for golden syrup dumplings in her Monday Munchies post yesterday.  That reminded me of the steamed pudding Mum used to make when I was young.  The recipe was old then, and I've made it for my sons too.  Even now, Family Dinner on a cold wintry night brings family together in the hope of this being served.  Family Dinner is special, everyone tries to be there.  Lots of laughter and the conversation becomes more and more animated as sons spark off each other.  Unfortunately we don't have these special occasions as often now as we used to.  Small grandchildren going to school the next day cut out weeknights and the three boys now live quite a distance from each other.  Said small grandchildren enjoy this as much as their dads  do and show every sign of appropriating family tradition for themselves.

Pudding steamers are making some sort of comeback.  I've seen a couple of sizes for sale.  Don't try this in a tiny steamer.  It used to make enough for the five of us when I was a child and will serve probably  at least eight if the slices are cut thinner.  Be sure your steamer seals well.  If steam gets in, the pudding will be spoilt.  If you have any doubts, put some baking paper over the top of the pudding before the lid is tightened.  Have a large saucepan about half full of boiling water ready and bubbling before the pudding is started.  Make sure steamer is very well greased before you put mix in, so it can be turned out onto  a plate for easy serving.  Keep water bubbling gently with the lid on saucepan while the pudding cooks and top up with more boiling water from the kettle if needed.

The recipe says serve with milk.  None of my sons has much milk in his diet, but anything other than cold milk with this recipe is sacrilege to them.  The girls would rather custard but they are told they don't know what tradition is!

This will feed lots or fewer if my sons find out you are serving it.  Any leftovers re-heat well and "certain people" have been known to re-heat slices in a frying pan with a little butter the next day.

If I made this with the amount of syrup specified, there would be cries of outrage.  Four or five tablespoons will not go astray.

Grandma’s (Moo's) Famous Golden Syrup Steamed Pud

60 gm butter/margarine

2 tabs golden syrup ( at least. I usually use at least 4)

½ cup milk

1 egg

2 cups  SR flour

Place marg, milk and golden syrup in saucepan and heat gently till butter/marg melts. (butter tastes much better)  Beat egg into this and stir in the flour.  Place in a well greased pudding steamer.  Place in large saucepan of boiling water and cook for 1 ½ hours.  Do not let water boil dry.  Serve with cold milk.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

saturday camera show and tell

I don't have brown thumbs in gardening usually.  I can grow flowers, shrubs and vegetables with a reasonable degree of success.  But African violets?  I think my thumbs there are dark brown.  I've never had much success at all with them.

This one is not mine.  It actually belongs to my son who was given it as part of a birthday present from his MIL, seven months ago.  I kept it going for him for  months at Killara.  It sat on my lap in the van on top of  several boxes when we moved here three months ago.  I think I must have just the right spot for it.  While I can usually keep them alive, they don't bloom.  This hasn't stopped blooming since he was given it.