Saturday, 28 July 2012

grandma's brag book again

My eldest grandson rang me the other night.  He's 13, 14 next January and in Year 8 at school.  He was so excited I could hardly understand him as the words tumbled out.  He and his dad, who is  still job hunting are going to the snow in a few weeks  time. A surprise for him. Fortunately this had been basically paid for before he lost his job.  Son goes with a group but hasn't been for some years and this is a a time for bonding.  So he was excited about that.  However, he was even more excited.  He has been chosen in the State rep under 14 soccer team.  He was thrilled to have risen to this level.  They will be going to Brisbane in the September/October school holidays and playing against several other states.  Each team plays five games on three successive days in a round robin type competition, a bit like Hockeyfest which is a teenage international hockey festival held at Olympic hockey grounds here in July.

He's always been good at sport and athletics where he competes at zone level..  He has a lot of talent and is willing to practise.  When he was not quite two, I saw him playing a ball  game with the six year olds.  He was keeping up with them, scoring and looked much as a soccer player  does when I see them on TV.
These photos were taken in May 2002, ten years ago on Mothers Day.  Andrew was a few months over three and Mis M his cousin was not quite two.  She turns twelve next month.  We were at the hockey fields at Homebush  for a Mothers Day picnic.  DIL played in top grade hockey as a goalie and we were watching her and having a picnic.  These two had a wonderful time.  They ran and danced and  chased each other.  Holding hands, they twirled around and around till they fell over.  They chased their own shadows for a long time and then tried jumping on each others' shadow.
Ten years and lots of water under the bridge since then.    They are growing up so fast and Andrew is now in a state team.  Well done to him..

Thursday, 26 July 2012


I've been very domestic today  Two loads of washing, one of them done last night and the sheets this morning were out to dry by 7:30.  Unfortunately, I've misjudged the day.  Yesterday was beautiful, sunny and mild.  Today is not cold but it's very grey.  I imagine most of what I washed will need airing inside shortly. Washing up and other domestic bits and pieces have been attended to as well.

You may remember I tried making crumpets some weeks ago.  They were not really successful as the rings I used were too small.  Abut a week ago, I bought a sturdy quite small pan, so decided to try it out as a ring today.  The results were varied but encouraging enough and quite edible enough to try again.  This is a bit like pikelets and needs some experimenting to get batter, time, temperature etc all balanced.

Here's the recipe I used.  I found a lot on a search, all basically the same.


  • 450 gm plain flour
  • 350 ml warm milk
  • 350 ml warm water *
  • 5 gm dried yeast
  • 10 gm salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder 

Mix milk, water and plain flour in basin, cover and set aside for an hour or more to rise.  Mixture should be thin like cream. *

When batter is bubbling, mix in salt and baking powder.  Don't put baking powder in earlier as it's activated  by contact with moisture and its effect will be negated.

Heat griddle or, in my case, small non-stick frying pan on low heat. Half fill pan or large ring and wait till batter is covered with bubbles.  Place a lid over and cook till top of crumpet is set.  Remove from pan and place on cake tray to cool.

This is the first crumpet I made.  The mixture was too thick and the pan filled far too much.  It is about twice the thickness at least of what I usually buy.

Bubbles rising to  the top of the crumpet as it cooks.  Top will still be moist.

Toasted crumpet with butter.  Success at last.  My family will have only butter or butter and vegemite on crumpets.  Nothing else.  This is a thinner one toasted and buttered.

All up this amount will make 10-12 crumpets.  I'll put some baking paper between what I have left and freeze them.  The pan approximates the commercial size but is a little bit bigger.  My mixture was  too thick to start with so I made 10 from the recipe.  Thinning it down would make more.

My British friends don't toast their fresh crumpets as we do here.  They toast only stale crumpets.  I tried bot ways and definitely prefer them toasted as is the usual way here.  

Because  I used the small pan to cook them the proceedings were fairly slow.  I imagine if you are cooking for several people or a teenage boy, then it would take a while to get an accumulation on the cake tray.

* I found I needed probably an extra half cup of water added a bit at a time to make batter  thin.  My batter thickened as it stood to rise and the first crumpet was nice but definitely hard to work with and a bit stodgy.  The mixture needs to be about the consistency of cream, perhaps a tiny bit thicker.

I've also done some knitting.  Here's the Falling Water Slouchy hat, a free download on Ravelry. It's done in the Madeline Tosh Vintage worsted in colour Briar.  You can see what's left of the skein.  Pattern said 200 yards, ball band said the same and i just scraped in with this bit to spare.  It's slouchy but I think I'd use DK next time as pattern says to use either.  I think the slightly lighter wool would drape a bit more.

Monday, 23 July 2012

more yarny goodness

I have finally finished the Fellowship of the Ring shawl.  I haven't blocked it yet as I'm not really sure I like it.  Perhaps the colours don't suit my idea of LOTR colour, perhaps it's the fact that it is a pi shawl. Or half a pi shawl.    Now I made a large pi shawl, fully circular, several years and and I like that,  However the lace and the shaping increases don't seem to work.  It makes the edges bumpy and I doubt that blocking will fix it.  I think it needs more stocking stitch between each set of lacy stitches.  So it's sitting there while I consider its fate.  I think I shall probably rip it out.  I'm just not satisfied with it.

The family has been very disturbed as one son was sacked, totally without warning.  He managed several offices placing disabled people in work.  He had a supportive boss, a great team, all doing well.  They had several audits passed with flying colours and two more to take.  He was called to head office and asked for his car keys and phone and told not to return to his office.  This was a bolt from the blue and they were on the point of buying another house as theirs is now far too small for them.  He went to see his boss who was as devastated as he was and who knew nothing of it at all.  He's doing some temp work and applying everyday for stuff.   He feels the not for profit field is where he works well, although he could earn a lot more in a private enterprise of the public service.

So I did some comfort shopping.  This is Madeleine Tosh sock yarn from Suzy Hausfrau in Canberra.  I ordered it late last Friday evening, just before I went to bed.  It was in my hands at about 1:00pm today, Monday.  Pretty good?  I think so.

From the left is superwash merino sock weight in tart, oxblood and baltic.  Far right is briar in worsted weight which will, I think, be a beret.

The green messy knitting top left is a pair of fingerless gloves awaiting ends being sewn in.  Made from  Bendigo Melody, merino, cashmere and microfibre.  From stash.

An apology is offered if you left a comment and I didn't respond.  I could see there were comments but could not actually see what they were.  This lasted about a week but seems to now be fixed.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

grey day

Another grey day here today but only a slight drizzle of rain here this morning. Just enough to wet the seat at the bus stop. I needed a couple of things to make sausage rolls to take out on Saturday for lunch, so bit the bullet of inertia and finally made myself get up and go. Once I was out, all was well, it was the original leaving that was the problem. I'm all stuffed up in the chest and the head and nose and can't be bothered moving much, although that's probably something that would help. Walking up the very slight slope to bus stop is causing me to feel breathless as I can't breathe properly. I think I may have to get a script as this is not clearing. Just like what many people I know already have too. When I was out, I found a small non-stick frying pan just a bit bigger than a crumpet. Now the lack of something to shape my crumpet mix a couple of months ago made me disgusted with the final product. This was reduced to $10 so I bought it. I found a link to crumpets in a blog somewhere but don''t have a record of it. When the top begins to bubble like a pikelet, this blogger turned it right down and covered the pan till top was set and partially cooked. Then she toasted them and said they were delicious. So when my head is a bit clearer, I'll give the recipe another go and use the small frying pan as a ring for the crumpets. Any leftovers can go in the freezer. I'll possibly have them for a Saturday breakfast when I allow myself something different to porridge for a change.

Baked chicken is for dinner tonight and I've prepared it and the vegetables all ready to go in the oven. I'm looking forward to it and to the leftovers from it. I've put a whole apple inside to keep it moist. DIL always does this or halves a lemon and uses that. I really like stuffing but can't be bothered with it and none I make tastes as good as Mum's used to.

 I had a bit of an experiment yesterday. I had a small eggplant in the fridge and much larger one was delivered on Tuesday, so I made baba genouj which I really enjoy. I had plans to roast it on BBQ earlier in the week but had no room. The picture shows the eggplant roasting directly over the smallest gas jet, turned down as far as I could. The skin blisters and turns black. I then put the eggplant in a plastic bag till it was cool and rubbed the blackened skin till it came off. This was roughly blended with some tahini, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice. I also added a bit of cumin. It was good and better today as the flavours had blended. I had leftover BBQ lamb last night and a pile of vegetables with some of the dip as a sauce for them.

My stove will not come any cleaner than what you can see.  I constantly clean it and all DILs have tried to get  rid of the yellow stains.  They seem to be burnt into the enamel and believe me, if one DIL in particular can't get rid of them, then they are probably permanent.  The actual inside of the burners has also been affected and we've even scraped at the burnt on gunk with a screw driver. All to no avail.  The previous tenants here ate various forms of curry and not much else and I think they also tipped leftover oil  down the sink, as that blocked a couple of days after I moved in.

All this talk of food suggests I have not done much knitting.  Correct.  Somewhere in the last couple of rows of My Fellowship of the Ring Mystery Shawl, I have made a mistake.  I've counted and recounted.  My stitch count is right  and I've tried to follow repeat across the row to see where my mistake is.  I keep getting different places so I think it's partly my head.  I probably should try finishing a sock which I work on occasionally.

I  find I live comfortably here.  I buy good quality food and appliances etc, although I am  careful with spending.  I have  enough to help others if I choose.  However, I don't know how others on a pension manage.  I'm under the lowest tax threshold by several thousand dollars, adding in the interest from a deposit from my mother and my original account.  I pay lots of thing monthly by debit from my account and my strata levy here works out to be a bit over $55 a week.  I own this place.  What sort of place in Sydney could be rented for that amount?  Not even a room.  Perhaps a small cardboard box under a bridge.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

old fashioned cheesecakes

I've been very domestic today.  I woke up to a thickish fog which muffled all sound and didn't really lift till mid morning.  It left behind traces of murkiness in the atmosphere, and while it's not really cold, it's not a pleasant looking day.  There are clouds coming over again and I think  more rain is on the way.

I had an early delivery of fruit and vegetables this morning.  I've cleaned out the fridge and washed the vegetable drawer  which had something icky on the bottom of it.  I have sorted the box and put it all away and have even cooked the beautiful rhubarb which came with it.  Dear me, autocorrect replaced  rhubarb with rhumba!

I've caught up on washing sheets granddaughters used last week, cleaned and tidied and baked.  Yes, baked.

I commented on Cindy's blog about some old fashioned cakes called cheesecakes which mum made often when I was young.  They were good for after school as they were filling but not over sweet.  I did  a bit of research last night as I have been told my memory must be wrong, how could they be called cheesecakes with no cheese.

Now I found several names for the same thing.  Some suggested that cheesecake was originally generic for any small cake.  Others are not so sure.  I haven't yet found what seems anything plausible for the name.  One site called them Welsh cheesecakes.  Nigella calls them London cakes but all are more or less the same.

I'm going out at the weekend and thought I'd try these and probably make some more to take with me.

I used commercial pastry to make a dozen tart bases

I used the recipe from the Edmonds NZ cookbook.  Mum had a similar recipe but I remember milk in hers.  This was easy.  I creamed half a cup of sugar with 125 gm butter.  Measured a cup of flour and whisked two eggs.  Flour and eggs were added alternately to the creamed butter.  It made a stiffish mix  but gave enough for a dozen tarts.  I buy organic eggs from the fruit and veg people and they have very orange yolks.

I thought I may have had too much jam, but these people make very good jams and relishes from NZ. Great flavour and texture and this raspberry was thick and didn't run everywhere.  You can buy these at Colesworths.  The relishes taste homemade and there are no odd ingredients in jams or relishes, just what should be there and  nothing more.

All done  with pastry scraps on the top.  I had one for lunch after my soup.  Very good it was and it brought back memories of these.  Then I remembered Mum's Anzac biscuits  and the chocolate fudge and the raspberry coconut slice and...

When I was searching last night I came on this site, Lest they be lost a collection of old recipes.  It's not long and is worth a look.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

end of the week

The end of a long week for all of us.  I had no trouble waking this morning but didn't feel really rested.  Tomorrow should be better,  hope.

This is my youngest grandson, aged six.  He was cold so put on his mother's velour hoodie.  His mum and dad, big sister, uncle  and DIL and I had dinner last night at the local pizzeria  where we have gone  for many years.  It's less than a minute's walk from where I used to live.

Poor little F was exhausted from his week of holiday activities and from being away from his parents for that time.  His first time away.  He had a bit of a meltdown at son's place on Thursday but recovered to enjoy the last day.

Other son and his family had something already arranged so we were a smaller group.

Mario's pizzas are wonderful and he has customers from all over Sydney.  We were out the back in an area which used to be noisy as there was nothing to absorb the sound.  He's fixed that now with special tiles on the ceiling and we all had a great time.  Not only are th pizzas wonderful, but Mario is a good guy.  Some years ago he had a pizza designed by one of my sons on his blackboard for ages.  Even now, if someone asks for a PB special, he'll do it.  When my eldest was miserable in hospital after the back operation about three months ago, he made a special  small pizza for him  about 11:00 at night.  DIL took it and there is a photo of the empty box with a message scrawled on it.  Apparently he often does this for his customers and takes it himself, although he does not normally deliver pizzas at all.  Son thoroughly enjoyed it and was really touched by the gesture.

Several pizzas disappeared quickly and two lots of garlic bread done in the pizza oven.  He also does a desert pizza with nutella which is pleasant, but last night he sent us one  with very finely sliced granny smith apple and cinnamon, topped with a small spoon of good vanilla icecream on every slice.   I have a photo of one of the adults draining the apple juices and melted icecream from the pizza plate, but thought better of posting it.

I gave the balaclava to youngest son while we were at Mario's.  As I though, it fits him much better than it fitted me and he was very pleased with it.  I'm glad, I really would not have wanted to redo it.  There is a lot of single ribbing in the neck which is quite long and was boring to knit.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

hands up!

This oh so flattering shot of me shows the balaclava I've just finished for my youngest son.  It had been almost finished for about three weeks but a big (unsuccessful) rush to finish it left me with sore hands and a disinclination to continue.

It's made to  an old Patons pattern in a Winter Warmers book.  I'm on the lookout usually for ill fitting patterns in books.  Odd photographic angles and similar which often mean  pattern really needs adjusting.  However, I made a blue with this.  There are four sizes and each is shown being worn with neck of balaclava well tucked into a zipped up jacket.  The neck is sloppy.  I don't think son will mind, but I should have made it smaller.  It will keep him warm on station in the morning where the wind from  the water in the bay a few metres away is icy.  I made an alpaca scarf last year so he should be cosy now.

As you can see, the head is also big on me.  You did see through my disguise?  However son has a big head and dreads as well so it should be fine on him.  As an eight year old he wore man's size cap or towelling hat.

When we had a place in the country where it was very cold, each of the boys had a commercial balaclava, double fabric, probably acrylic.  They were bought  at a disposal store and they loved them.

Son has been after one for ages but I could not find a pattern.  This is made from 8 ply Bendigo Serenade, 80% merino, 20% bamboo.  I had made a beanie for another of his brothers from  the same and wondered if I would have enough yarn.  I had a bout 5 metres left from one of Bendigo's large balls.  There's a lot of knitting in the balaclava neck.

Week of granddaughters is almost over.  One more sleep and they will be picked up tomorrow afternoon. It has been much better this year.  Miss 7 still has tantrums, I've seen them at home, but there have been none yet at my place.  Says she crossing fingers.  Last year there were two or three every day, screaming shouting, crying and stomping feet type of thing.  Hopefully as she gets older, these will completely go.  Food has been eaten without fuss, she's put on something long-sleeved without my suggestion and she's willingly gone to bed at a reasonable hour.  All without complaint.  Her parents would have been horrified to see her behaviour last year.

Miss just 10, for whom I bought the camera linked in post below, has really enjoyed it.  She even managed a decent one of me sans balaclava.